Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday he is open to finding an offset to pay for extending unemployment benefits through 2014. But Reid suggested it will be difficult to find an offset that both parties can agree upon.
“Sen. [Mitch] McConnell [(R-Ky.)] says he wants to pay for extending for these unemployment benefits … by whacking ObamaCare. That’s a non-starter,” Reid told reporters. “If they come with something that’s serious, I’ll talk to them. “But right now they should understand the low-hanging fruit is gone. We’ve scavenged every place we can go,” he said.
The emphasis should be on Republicans to find a pay-for because they have insisted on not adding to the deficit.
Reid, however, said the cost of the proposed three-month extension of benefits pending on the Senate floor should not be offset. He expressed more flexibility on an aid package covering the rest of the year.
“If they can come up with some — they meaning the Republicans — something that’s reasonable for a yearlong extension, I’ll take a look at it,” he said. “They’re the one who wants it to be paid for. We don’t think it should be paid for. Why should the onus be on us?” Republicans hailed Reid’s comments as a breakthrough.
“This is the first time I’ve heard Democrats talk about passing unemployment benefits that don’t add to the deficit and I’ve been here 17 years,” said a senior Republican aide. Democrats have argued that Congress did not offset the cost of unemployment benefits when they approved them during a lower unemployment rate under former President George W. Bush. McConnell countered the deficit was lower during the Bush administration.
Sources—erik wasson, Lauren schneiderman, Alexander bloton, the hill