Washington, DC – Ways and Means Ranking Member Dave Camp (R-MI) today criticized House Democrats’ refusal to pay for needed unemployment benefits and sending a bill to the Senate that has no hope of passage. The Senate’s rejection of an unpaid-for extension of unemployment benefits yesterday caused the Associated Press to label today’s House action as a “futile gesture.”
“The Democrats have large majorities in the House and Senate and control the White House. If Democrats would just agree to pay for this spending, hundreds of thousands of unemployed Americans would be receiving the benefits they need to help put food on the table,” said Camp. “From the failure of stimulus to the failure to pay for this bill, Democrats’ failure to govern has left Americans without the jobs they deserve and now the unemployment benefits they need.”
Unemployment Bill Fails Speaker’s “Reasonable Prospect” Standard
On Monday, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was quoted in CongressDaily AM as saying, “I am hard-put to pass any more initiatives here unless there is some reasonable prospect of success on the Senate side.” Given the Senate’s rejection of a similar measure yesterday, Camp said, “Today’s vote is not only fiscally irresponsible, but it is an exercise in futility and the Speaker knows that. Instead of playing partisan games, we should be paying for these benefits and helping unemployed Americans.”
Democrats ‘OK’ with Using Unspent Stimulus Funds for Other Spending
Camp offered a way to pay for the extension of unemployed benefits, which Democrats blocked on procedural grounds. Camp noted, however, that his preferred method of paying for these benefits – using unspent stimulus funds – appeared to recently have the backing of the second highest ranking House Democrat, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD). In an appearance on ABC’s “This Week” and in response to how Congress should deal with calls for more spending on the economy, Hoyer noted that, “I personally believe that if we have dollars that are not yet expended in the Recovery Act…I think we ought to do that.”
In an article entitled, “House Dems reopen stimulus to find offsets to more spending,” The Hill reports House Democrats intend to later today pay for $11.7 billion in spending House Appropriations Committee Chairman Obey wants to include in the supplemental appropriations bill by “redirecting money in the stimulus,” among other spending cuts.
Finally, an amendment offered by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Baucus used unspent stimulus funds to pay for additional government spending.