Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act—Motion to Proceedby Senator Richard J. Durbin
Posted on 2014-01-08
DURBIN. Will the Senator yield for a question?
Mr. REED. I would be happy to.
Mr. DURBIN. I would like to ask a question of the Senator from Rhode Island through the Chair.
There has been a debate on the floor, and we have heard it off the floor, about whether we should pay for unemployment benefits. Historically, if I am not mistaken, most of the decisions to extend unemployment insurance benefits have been considered emergency measures and not paid for, and now there is a suggestion from many Republicans that we need to cut spending in areas to compensate for this extension of unemployment benefits which, if I am not mistaken, are in the range of $25 billion or $26 billion a year.
One of the suggestions yesterday from Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell would, not surprisingly, address the Affordable Care Act, so- called ObamaCare, and would eliminate one of the basic protections in that law. What Senator McConnell proposed yesterday was to eliminate the responsibility of every individual to have health insurance, which was put in the law so we could have a large pool of insured people and say to anyone with a preexisting condition: You will not be disqualified for health insurance.
So the Senator from Kentucky has given us this approach which the Republicans support: If you will agree to eliminate protection from health insurance for people with preexisting conditions, then we will allow you to give unemployment benefits. In other words, if you will eliminate this protection in health insurance for 300 million-plus Americans, we will give you 1 year of unemployment benefits for 1.3 million Americans. I might add, for the record, there are 1.9 million individuals with preexisting conditions in the State of Kentucky--the State of the Senator who made this proposal.
I would ask the Senator from Rhode Island, who has shown extraordinary leadership on this issue of extended unemployment benefits: First, would he address the issue of paying for these benefits? And, second, would he address the specific suggestion of the Republican leader that the best way to pay for the benefits for 1.3 million unemployed people is to reduce protections in health insurance for over 300 million Americans? Mr. REED. I thank the Senator from Illinois.