GOP Senate candidates oppose unemployment bill

Posted by Jim Morrill and John Frank on January 7, 2014 

Six Republicans joined 54 Democratic U.S. senators Tuesday in clearing the way for a vote to extend federal unemployment benefits to 1.3 million Americans. The 60-37 procedural vote allows final consideration of the extension.

U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, a Democrat, voted yes; U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, a Republican, voted no.

The measure included a provision to restart long-term federal unemployment benefits for North Carolina jobless workers. Those workers were cut off when state lawmakers passed a bill to curtail the state’s program, violating a provision in federal law.

Still, three of North Carolina’s five GOP Senate hopefuls would have voted no.

Jordan Shaw, a spokesman for House Speaker Thom Tillis, said only that the candidate would have voted against Tuesday’s measure.

Mark Harris, a Charlotte pastor, issued a statement: “This is the latest example of the Washington DC establishment supporting policy that is forcing our Nation to pay bills on a credit card that is already maxed out,” he said. “This extension of unemployment benefits unfortunately is not paid for and does not include anything to help put people back to work.”

Bill Flynn, a Forsyth County broadcaster, said there’s a better way to help the jobless.

“We need look no further than to the State of North Carolina to see how to effectively lower unemployment rates in the long term,” he said. “Extending unemployment benefits and increasing the already burdensome deficits is not the answer. Compassion means rapidly building a better environment for jobs to grow. Specifically, lower taxes and less regulation ...”

Greg Brannon and Heather Grant could not be reached.

House Speaker John Boehner and other Republicans say they want Congress to come up with spending cuts to offset the $6.5 billion cost of extending benefits.

Tillis’ stance in particular drew attention. He has criticized Hagan for not adding language to federal law allowing North Carolina to tweak their unemployment benefits without penalty. But now Tillis would have voted against the fix.

“If Tillis wanted to do more than play political games with unemployed people, then he would have joined the bipartisan coalition that supports debating the bill with Kay’s fix,” said Hagan campaign spokeswoman Sadie Weiner.

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