Three months after the Senate approved a bipartisan compromise to extend federal unemployment benefits, its proponents have grudgingly come to the conclusion that their bill will not pass the House. Indeed, even as 3 million jobless Americans go without aid, the bipartisan measure won’t even get a vote in the lower chamber because House Republican leaders refuse to give it one.
Yesterday, Sens. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) unveiled their Plan B: a weaker bill for unemployment benefits, which doesn’t extend aid retroactively. It’s still bipartisan, and it’s still fully paid for, but it’s less ambitious by design – the idea is to find a solution that might be more palatable for the GOP leadership in the House.
Heller, himself a former House member, said in a statement that there’s no reason to deny this new bipartisan compromise a chance to succeed. “Senator Reed and I have gone back to the drawing board, and put together a new proposal that I hope both chambers of Congress can debate and vote on,” the Nevada Republican said.
But once again, that’s apparently not going to happen.
[T]he bill faces the same obstacle as before: House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who showed little interest in the legislation and was happy to run out the clock after the Senate passed it in April. A spokesman for Boehner told HuffPost on Tuesday that the speaker’s response would remain the same.
Keep in mind, the Speaker’s office hasn’t actually seen the new Reed/Heller compromise bill. Boehner hasn’t looked it over, weighed its costs and benefits, sat down with colleagues to discuss the bill’s merits, or really done any actual work at all.
Rather, the Speaker’s office saw some news reports. When asked for comment, Boehner’s aides could have said something noncommittal such as, “House Republicans will be glad to take a look at what the senators put together,” but they couldn’t even be bothered to keep up the pretense.
Instead, the bill to help out-of-work Americans, struggling to keep their heads above water, is already dead – sight unseen – as far as the House GOP leadership is concerned.
Ordinarily, this would be about the time that House Republicans recommended their own more conservative, alternative solution, but therein lies the rub: there is no House GOP plan. The Republican alternative to the bipartisan compromise is, well, nothing.
Put simply, the House majority party doesn’t see the need to produce a solution to the problem because, as far as they’re concerned, there is no problem to solve.
Tell us again, Mitch McConnell, about how congressional dysfunction is Democrats’ fault.