Harry Reid: Senate will vote next week on jobless benefits
US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) has said the Senate will vote Monday on a bill that includes a three-month extension of emergency unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed.
Reid said that he hopes the bill, co-sponsored by Nevada's Republican Sen. Dean Heller, will be approved by the upper chamber.
"I hope we can get that done," said Reid, praising Heller for breaking away “from the tea party folks who don't want to do anything" and joining “us.”
Meanwhile, Reid said he was not optimistic that the Republican-controlled House of Representatives would approve the temporary extension of the federal unemployment benefits as well, calling the lower chamber a “black hole of legislation.”
“We’ll see what happens,” he told the Associated Press on Monday. "I don't predict anything in the House."
Nevada has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, and roughly 17,000 Americans in the state lost their benefits when the program expired Saturday.
According to White House officials, US President Barack Obama has endorsed the proposal, introduced by Senators Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island) and Dean Heller (R-Nevada), which seeks to temporarily extend unemployment benefits.
However, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) and some other Republicans have vowed to oppose another extension. They argue that US policy makers must focus on creating jobs rather than extending unemployment aid.
On Saturday, 1.3 million Americans lost their unemployment benefits after Congress failed to extend an emergency federal program under which jobless American workers received unemployment insurance payments.
Before December 28, 38 percent of unemployed Americans received unemployment insurance through their state or federal government. But now, as the program has expired, only a quarter of jobless Americans will receive the benefits, the lowest rate in over half a century.