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Coats: Majority Leader Blocks Reforms to Fix Unemployment Insurance Benefits

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Senator Dan Coats (R-Ind.) today voted against ending debate on the Unemployment Insurance Extension bill after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) rejected a compromise proposal that would have paid for and reformed the unemployment insurance program.

"I joined with a group of Republicans to offer a set of reforms to the unemployment insurance program based on sound policy and bipartisan ideas," said Coats. "Our proposal would have reformed this broken program, repealed recent cuts to military retirement benefits and allowed amendments from both Republicans and Democrats to receive a vote. Unfortunately, the majority leader rejected our proposal and chose politics above solutions."

"Hoosiers and people across the country are fed up with the dysfunction of Harry Reid's Senate and deserve better leadership," added Coats. "We need to focus on policies that actually grow the economy and get Americans working again, not increase spending and debt."

From the start of the debate, Coats said that he could only support an extension of benefits if it was paid for without raising more debt and if reforms were made to improve the temporary Emergency Unemployment Compensation program.

"We need to ensure that only those who are actively seeking work but cannot find it are receiving these benefits," said Coats.

Coats offered a number of amendments including one that would have strengthened existing requirements to ensure unemployment benefits are going to individuals actively trying to return to the labor force. The Coats amendment would have prohibited individuals from receiving Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits if they fail to accept any offer of suitable work or if they refuse to apply for suitable work referred to them by a state employment agency. States would have flexibility to enforce this requirement consistent with their state laws.

The expanded emergency unemployment benefits program was a temporary program first created after the fiscal crisis of 2008. In a vote of 55-45, the Senate voted down an effort to end debate on the legislation to extend the benefits, short of the 60 votes necessary to complete action on the bill. Majority Leader Harry Reid did not allow a vote on the Coats amendment to reform the program.

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