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Extension of Unemployment Benefits Stalled in House

Officially, House leaders are saying they’ll have the support to pass an enormous jobs proposal that would extend the deadline to file for additional unemployment benefits (but not create new benefits) through the end of the year.

“We will have the votes,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told reporters yesterday.

Unofficially, though, they’re struggling to rally the majority they need.

Why? Well, for one thing, the bill isn’t fully paid for, leaving the Blue Dogs reluctant to support it for fear of adding to the nation’s growing debt. On top of that, the proposal would also raise the tax on “carried interest” from 15 percent to 35 percent. The provision is anathema to Wall Street, where investment managers who take a percentage of their clients’ earnings have been taxed at the lower rate for years — meaning that some of these billionaires are paying a lower tax rate than their secretaries.

Still, the thought of any tax hike in an election year has given pause to some moderate Democrats facing tough contests in November.

And that’s just in the House. The bill will be an even tougher sell in the Senate, where 60 votes will be required to pass the measure, and conservative Democrats are already wary of the country’s enormous reliance on deficit spending. Complicating passage, Congress is scheduled to begin its week-long Memorial Day vacation on Friday.

“I don’t know that it’s going to get resolved this week,” a senior Senate Democratic aide told Roll Call yesterday.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters Tuesday, however, that lawmakers will stay in Washington until the bill is passed. “We must pass the new jobs bill this week, in the next few days,” Reid said.

That assumes, though, that the House can pass it first.

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