House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) leaves a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, on March 13, 2014.
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Boehner: Senate unemployment bill is ‘unworkable’

Republicans have spent nearly three months blocking the extension of unemployment insurance in the Senate. On the cusp of a bipartisan breakthrough, Republicans in the House are already threatening to hit the brakes.

House Speaker John Boehner dismissed the Senate’s new unemployment compromise, despite the support of five Senate Republicans who helped craft the bill.

“We have always said that we’re willing to look at extending emergency unemployment benefits again, if Washington Democrats can come up with a plan that is fiscally-responsible, and gets to the root of the problem by helping to create more private-sector jobs. There is no evidence that the bill being rammed through the Senate by Leader Reid meets that test,” Boehner said in a statement  Wednesday. 

He cited a letter from the National Association of State Workforce Agencies that raised concerns about implementing the changes mandated by the Senate’s bill. “According to these state directors, the bill is also simply unworkable,” Boehner said. 

NASWA did not take an official position on the bill, but the group raised “significant concerns”  about implementing the Senate proposal. In one instance, though, it offered a simpler alternative to make it work.

The ‘millionaire provision’ would be very hard to administer. The UI system is not means-tested and therefore does not collect information on an individual’s adjusted gross income,” the letter said, referring to the provision that bars the wealthy from getting benefits. “Screening individuals by reported quarterly UI covered wages, rather than income tax information, would be a more feasible approach.”

Senate Democrats said they’d be willing to work with the House GOP to address such matters.

“We believe the concerns that have been expressed are resolvable and we look forward to Speaker Boehner coming to the table to find solutions,” Adam Jentleson, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, said in a statement. 

The Senate is scheduled to take up the bill next week.