Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Discharge Time?

As expected, it passed last night. The US Senate finally approved a temporary federal extension of unemployment insurance (UI). Senators Harry Reid (D) & Dean Heller (R) voted for UI extension, along with 57 other Senators.

Yet even as this UI extension bill cleared the Senate, it faces a difficult struggle ahead in the House. Why? As usual, House Republican "leaders" value political gamesmanship over sound economic policy.

But at least this time, they're finally starting to feel some push-back from their own ranks. Even Rep. Joe Heck (R-Henderson) is finally saying something. He has recently joined six other House Republicans in sending House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) requesting a House floor vote on the bipartisan UI extension bill that just passed the Senate.

So at least some House Republicans are finally starting to speak up... But will this sternly worded letter be enough? Or will they need to prepare for further action?

Last month, House Democrats drafted a discharge petition for UI extension. Reps. Steven Horsford (D-North Las Vegas) & Dina Titus (D-Paradise) quickly signed it upon its introduction. And if Rep. Heck and those six other House Republicans who just sent that letter really want UI extension, they may need to prepare to do the same.

Why? Speaker Boehner's media spinners still claim UI extension is "not necessary". Even though their decision to let the federal UI extension lapse has sucked $5 billion out of our economy and thrown over 2.3 million Americans (including over 34,000 Nevadans) into economic ruin, one of Boehner's top lieutenants (Rep. Tom Cole [R-Oklahoma]) actually just said federal UI should "come to an end".

Try arguing this to the over 2.3 million Americans struggling to survive because federal UI has been cut off for over three months. We bet they won't. Instead, they'll probably continue trying even more lame@ss excuses to spin away what the Senate just passed. What they still fail to recognize is that people can't pay our bills and/or buy groceries with spin. These unemployed Americans have been looking for work and continue to look for work. But until they find work, they need to survive. And simply cutting them off won't help these people survive, let alone find work.

What House Republicans looking to pass the bipartisan #RenewUI legislation that's already passed the Senate need to recognize is that they need to send a clear message to their "leaders" that ignoring reality is simply not an option. And while sternly worded letters are a start, they may not be enough to finish the job. If Speaker Boehner and his lieutenants continue to drown #RenewUI in their toxic "TEA", then the only way to rescue it will be a discharge petition. Are they ready to sign?

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