In a surprise, the Senate is on track to approve a three-month extension of unemployment benefits, but the White House is refusing compromise by trying to find offsets for the $6.5 billion cost, all but guaranteeing that the House won’t pass the bill and the measure will end up as a political pawn for Democrats.
“The president believes that this is an emergency situation,” said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney today in ruling out paying for the benefits. The House “should follow the admirable lead of the Senate and pass the bill,” after which, Carney vaguely promised “we and Congress can continue to talk about how to move forward” after the three months are up.
The Senate came up with 60 votes needed to overcome procedural hurdles and allow a final up-or-down vote, with more Republicans signing on than expected.
In remarks at the White House, Obama insisted that the House pass the bill too.
“We’ve got to get this across the finish line without obstruction or delay,” Obama said. “And we need the House of Representatives to be able to vote for it as well.”
But with the White House refusing to compromise, that seems unlikely. House Speaker Boehner today reiterated that he’s not going to consider any bill that isn’t paid for
One month ago I personally told the White House that another extension of temporary emergency unemployment benefits should not only be paid for but include something to help put people back to work. To date, the president has offered no such plan. If he does, I’ll be happy to discuss it, but right now the House is going to remain focused on growing the economy and giving America’s unemployed the independence that only comes from finding a good job.
The White House sees a win-win political situation. If the bill somehow passes, Obama gets to thump away again on the issue again in three months. If it doesn’t, he’ll talk about nonstop for weeks or months and get an even better political result.