Unemployment Extension Negotiations Continue: Boehner Gives Heller His Demands (Updated)
Updated 6:20 p.m. | Speaker John A. Boehner talked to the leading Republican pushing for an unemployment insurance extension, telling Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada on Tuesday that he won’t budge from demands for add-ons that would create jobs before he will put the measure on the House floor.
“The Speaker spoke by telephone with Sen. Heller today, and told him the same thing he has told the White House since before Christmas: we’re willing to look at a plan that is paid-for and includes something to help create jobs,” said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel in a statement. “Unfortunately, Senator Reid ruled out adding jobs provisions.”
The Ohio Republican has been consistent since December in demanding some concession from Democrats and the White House in return for an extension of emergency unemployment benefits — although without naming what, exactly, would be enough for him to bring a bill to the floor for a vote. Heller spokeswoman Chandler Smith said Heller had “a good conversation” with Boehner. “He encouraged the Speaker to allow the unemployment insurance extension legislation to move forward in the House, making the case that this bill is not just important for Nevada, but for the entire country,” she said in an email. “Speaker Boehner relayed the same message that he gave to the White House. Senator Heller will continue to work to get something done.”
Adam Jentleson, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., wasn’t amused by Steel’s statement.
“Are you kidding me? This is the lamest excuse in a long line of lame excuses. Speaker Boehner could bring the bill to the floor tomorrow if he wanted but he’s choosing not to, it’s as simple as that.”
Democrats and the White House have maintained a steady drumbeat pushing for a vote on the bill that passed the Senate.
On Tuesday, the Ways and Means Democrats sent a letter to Boehner featuring stories from more than 50 of the 2.5 million people who have been cut off from extended unemployment benefits since December.
On Monday, Reid blamed opposition from the Koch brothers for Republicans opposing unemployment benefits and the minimum wage.
And President Barack Obama and his allies have been tweeting about the issue regularly.
Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.
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