Pelosi makes her case for extending emergency jobless benefits


McClatchy Washington Bureau

 House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and other Democratic women members of Congress made a pre-Christmas pitch Monday to extend emergency unemployment benefits.

Pelosi told reporters she'd accept the three-month extension likely to be voted on in the Senate when it returns January 6.

"The three months I've always been agreeable to because...I would like for us to have much predictability and certainty in how we go forward on measures that we take that relate to our economy, but that isn't what we have," Pelosi said.

Emergency aid is due to expire Dec. 28. The loss of benefits "is particularly poignant and nearly devastating as we go into the Christmas holiday," Pelosi said.

Some Republicans argue that the economy and the job picture are improving and therefore there's less need to extend the emergency benefits.

Not so, argued Pelosi.

"So if it was going to be three months to take us into the next year to give us time to have a more, a fuller debate, or for our Republican colleagues to have a growing awareness of what this means to their constituents in their districts, their purchasing power, the vitality of the economy of their own areas, then that would be a good thing," Pelosi said.

"So I was perfectly willing, and made the suggestion over and over again, that we should be able to extend it for three months to get us past this."

Her hope is that "we'd get into the new year, hopefully a new hiring enthusiasm, you know, just things change and hopefully for the better."

The $6.5 billion extension would not be offset by cuts or other revenues, a big problem for a lot of Republicans. Pelosi argued this was an emergency and no offset is needed.

"We can't let this happen," said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn. For years, she said, "Republicans and Democrats have worked together to expand -- to extend these benefits when they are needed. We shouldn't be making it harder for working families."


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