Coburn Shoots Down Jobless Benefits Extension
To thousands of unemployed folks, two very different events are conspiring to pose an imminent threat to their federal benefits: (1) The deadline to file for jobless benefits arrives April 5, and (2) Congress leaves this weekend for a two-week vacation, and won’t be back to Washington until April 12.
Recognizing the timing issue, Democrats are trying this afternoon to pass a bill — approved by the House earlier in the month — which would extend the unemployment insurance filing deadline (not to be confused with creating a Tier V) through April. The proposal would also extend COBRA health benefits, and delay a 21 percent cut poised to hit Medicare doctors on April 1 — a problem not addressed by the larger health reform bills passed this week.
“We should not let these programs expire,” Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) just said on the chamber floor, moments before he asked for unanimous consent to pass the bill.
It didn’t happen.
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) objected, arguing that the bill isn’t offset with cuts elsewhere. It wasn’t unexpected. The Republicans this afternoon have been pushing an accompanying measure that would offset the costs.
“I don’t care how we pay for it,” Coburn said, “as long as we don’t add to our kids’ debt.”
Democrats have fought the pay-for proposal, arguing that the deficit spending is justified to address emergencies in a down economy. Stay tuned…