Votes from Idaho Reps. Walt Minnick and Mike Simpson helped defeat an extension of unemployment benefits in the U.S. House of Representatives Thursday. The plan would have extended benefits through February and cost $12 billion.
Extended federal unemployment benefits, which can last up to 99 weeks for some Americans without jobs, are set to expire at the end of this month. Such benefits expired at the end of May, which affected 10,000 unemployed Idahoans receiving weekly benefits. However, the benefits were extended from May to their current expiration date, which is Nov. 30.
House Democrats tried to extend benefits through a suspension vote, which required a two-thirds majority to pass. The effort failed, with less than 60 percent of House members supporting the plan. Minnick was one of 11 Democrats who joined Simpson and 141 other Republicans in opposing the extension.
“Today’s vote to extend unemployment insurance through February 2011 was nothing more than political posturing on the part of the outgoing Democrat majority,” Simpson said in a news release Thursday. “The bill is unpaid for and would have added $12 billion directly to the national debt while vast reserves of stimulus money still sits unused. By bringing the bill under a rule that prohibits debate or amendments and requires a 2/3 vote for passage, the Democrats knew it would not pass.”
Minnick and Simpson voted against a similar measure in July. Regarding that vote, Minnick told IdahoReporter.com that he opposed the plan because it would increase the federal deficit.
The U.S. Senate is considering a similar plan to extend jobless benefits during the lame duck session. Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch have opposed such measures in the past.