The unemployment extension for 2012 has not passed yet. Some politicians in Washington still call for lawmakers to work out a solution before Jan. 1, 2012. Many critics and unemployment benefits recipients, however, fear no deal will be made by then.
If no extension is reached by the beginning of next year, about two million Americans would lose their benefits in January and four million additional Americans would lose their benefits in the remainder of the year, according to the National Employment Law Project (NELP).
So who is to blame for not passing the unemployment extension this late in December?
The U.S. Senate passed a two-month extension last week and went home for the holidays. The deal was passed with wide bi-partisan support in an 89-10 vote. The Senate's plan was to come back in 2012 and work on a year-long deal.
President Obama’s administration indicated that Obama would sign the Senate's deal into law.
However, the House, led by Speaker John Boehner, chose to reject the bill in a 229-193 vote on Tuesday.
Boehner’s explanation is that the passage of the bill, which contains a provision on payrolls tax cut, “could create substantial problems, confusion and costs affecting a significant percentage of U.S. employers and employees, citing a letter from the National Payroll Reporting Consortium.
Moreover, he said he wants to come up with the full year-long deal. As such, he wants President Obama to call back Senators to finish the year-long deal.
Obama, however, blasted Boehner and the House Republicans who voted with him.
“Let’s not play brinksmanship. The American people are weary of it. They’re tired of it…it’s not a game,” said Obama, reported The Washington Post.
Obama said Boehner is trying to wring concessions from Democrats with this move.
Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid called Boehner’s act “unconscionable,” arguing that Boehner should pass the two-month compromise that he and Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell negotiated “at Speaker Boehner’s own request.”
The NELP, which supports the Senate’s 2-month deal, had a dark interpretation of Boehner’s actions.
“As Speaker Boehner well knows, this stalling tactic virtually guarantees that benefits for the long-term unemployed, those already hit hardest by the recession and slow recovery, will lapse for a dangerously long period of time,” stated Christine Owens, NELP executive director.
“By the time Members return to D.C. to begin negotiations anew, close to 1.8 million long-term unemployed will lose their only life-line,” stated Owens.