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“It’s Time to Make the Tough Choices to Tackle the Deficit”

November 18, 2010

Sadly, today’s vote to extend unemployment insurance through February 2011 was nothing more than political posturing on the part of the outgoing Democrat majority.  The bill is unpaid for and would have added $12 billion directly to the national debt while vast reserves of stimulus money still sits unused.  By bringing the bill under a rule that prohibits debate or amendments and requires a 2/3 vote for passage, the Democrats knew it would not pass. 

Because of these heavy handed techniques, almost every Republican opposed the bill, as did several Democrats, and it failed easily.  If Democrats would have followed regular order by allowing amendments, Republicans could have offered a proposal to pay for the bill with unused stimulus funds. Had that happened, it likely would have passed, but Democrats would rather see the bill fail than allow that to happen. They felt it was more important to leave intact their massive unspent stimulus reserve and instead tack the cost of the unemployment insurance extension onto the already calamitous national debt.

This debate once again demonstrates two fundamental realities.  The first is that congressional Democrats are incapable of prioritizing federal spending in an effort to reduce the debt.  The second is that congressional Republicans have learned the lessons of their own fiscal failures and are ready to make the tough decisions required to get the nation back on track.

I strongly support extending benefits to those who are out of work – in fact, I am a cosponsor of H.R. 5647, the Responsible COBRA, Unemployment, and Poverty Extension Act, legislation that would extend unemployment benefits without adding a penny to the national deficit.

I sincerely hope congressional Democrats come forward with a proposal like H.R. 5647 to extend unemployment insurance benefits without adding to the debt. Unfortunately, it looks like they still have not received the message that voters across the country sent them a few weeks ago.