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GOP Senators Introduce Bill to Pay for Unemployment Insurance Extension


Location: Washington, DC

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

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), today 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 those 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."

"The "Responsible Unemployment Compensation Extension Act' 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.

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