News Releases

Thursday, January 16, 2014

GOP Senators Introduce Bill to Pay for Unemployment Insurance Extension

Senators Heller, Collins, Portman, Ayotte, Coats, Murkowski, Isakson, and Hoeven introduce stand-alone legislation that is fully paid for, repeals military retiree cuts, protects cuts for Medicare providers

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Dean Heller (R-NV), along with Senators Susan
Collins (R-ME), Rob Portman (R-OH), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Dan Coats (R-IN), Lisa
Murkowski (R-AK), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), and John Hoeven (R-ND), introduced the
Responsible Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2014, S. 1931.

This legislation would fully pay for an extension of unemployment
insurance benefits for three months. The bill also repeals recent cuts in the
military retiree cost-of-living adjustment included in December's budget
agreement.

“This is a common-sense proposal that will allow Congress to help
Americans who were left desperate when their benefits were abruptly cut, as
well as ensure that our nation keeps its promises to military retirees and
their families. Several of my colleagues and I worked diligently together to
provide a reasonable path forward to pay for unemployment benefits.
Unfortunately, the Senate did not get an opportunity to vote on this measure
earlier this week, but hopefully now we will have another occasion to consider
it,” said Senator Heller.

“I understand how important unemployment insurance is to those who
lost their jobs through no fault of their own and are searching for work but
are unable to find it,” said Senator Collins.  “Our proposal would
extend these benefits for three months, as the President requested, and
identifies a responsible way to pay for them.  Our proposal also fully
pays for restoring the military’s retiree COLA, which was unfairly cut in the
recent budget agreement, breaking our promise to current retirees.  I am
hopeful we can work together to pass this legislation.”

"Millions of Americans are suffering in this economy, and
they are looking to Washington for answers. But they want real, permanent,
long-term solutions," said Senator Portman.  "This
proposal would pay for some temporary relief while buying us some time to work
on those solutions, such as the worker-retraining reforms in my bipartisan
CAREER Act that would connect the unemployed with the skills they need to fill
available jobs. In addition, our bill would include a scaled-down version of my
amendment to prevent double dipping between Unemployment Insurance and Social
Security Disability Insurance and reverse the cuts to military retiree pay
contained in the budget deal, making sure we keep faith with those who have
sacrificed so much for our country.

“We’re continuing our work to solve this problem by advancing a
solution that both parties can support.  This is a good faith proposal to
pay for a temporary extension of long-term unemployment insurance and reverse
unfair military retiree cuts, and there’s no reason it shouldn’t get a vote on
the Senate floor” said Senator Ayotte.

“Though the Majority Leader has walked away currently from
negotiations, we are continuing to work on reasonable legislation based on
bipartisan proposals to reform and pay for an extension of unemployment
insurance benefits,” said Senator Coats. “I urge the Majority Leader to
bring up this bill and allow members the opportunity to have a full debate on
amendments.”

“This bill is a rational, reasonable proposal to help jobless
Americans combining ideas from across the aisle to address key American
concerns.  This cannot be called Republican proposal: it incorporates what
the President has asked for, uses funding sources proposed by Democrats,
extends long-term unemployment insurance for three months and includes needed
reforms to our long term jobless policies.  It does all this and keeps our
promise to our veterans to fix the cost-of-living cut enacted by the budget
deal without adding a dime to the deficit – if a bill like this cannot get a
vote in the Senate, we are at a very bleak place,” said Senator Murkowski.

“I am proud to join several of my Senate Republican colleagues in
introducing this legislation today to continue our efforts to pay for an
extension of unemployment insurance and to protect our military from cuts to
their retirement. Over the past several weeks, we have--in good faith--offered
several solutions with our latest proposal incorporating the Majority Leader’s
ideas.  It’s unfortunate that the Majority Leader has rejected outright
our proposal and is putting politics above good policy for the American people.
I encourage the Majority Leader to reverse course and to work with us on a solution
to protect the unemployed and military retirees in our states,” said Senator
Isakson
.

“Our bill is a sensible measure that not only fixes the COLA
reduction for military retirees that was in the budget, but also fully pays for
it,” Senator Hoeven said. “In addition, it also pays for the
extension in Unemployment Insurance benefits to ensure that we don't increase
the nation’s deficit or debt.”

The bill is based on a package that Heller and these seven
Republicans filed earlier this week as a way to pay for extending unemployment
benefits during consideration of S. 1845.  Following the Senate Majority’s
rejection of that alternative, the Senators introduced the legislation as a
stand-alone bill.  

Additional details of the Responsible Unemployment Compensation
Act of 2014:

  • Repeals military retirement cost-of-living reduction included in December's budget agreement.
  • Fully offsets the three-month extension by spreading savings proposed by the Majority across the current 10-year budget window. This legislation exempts Medicare providers from further cuts and includes specific language to ensure that sequestration of defense resources is not increased.
  • Reduces weeks of eligibility for emergency unemployment tiers 1 and 2, which reduces total state and federal unemployment from 73 weeks to 57 weeks.

  • Eliminates overlapping payments for unemployment
    insurance benefits and Social Security disability benefits.