Democratic U.S. House hopeful Joe Bock backs extension of federal unemployment benefits and is calling on U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski and others in Congress to push the cause.
“I believe it’s wrong to turn our backs on our neighbors in their time of need and, like them, I’m tired of political maneuvering in Washington getting in the way of economic recovery here in Indiana,” Bock said Tuesday, Jan. 7, in a statement. Federal jobless benefits, implemented in 2008 as the Great Recession took hold, expired Dec. 28, and lawmakers are debating whether to extend them.
Walorski, in response to Bock, said she doesn’t back a plan to extend unemployment benefits currently under debate in the U.S. Senate and noted that no parallel legislation is scheduled for House consideration. If a bill is brought to the House floor, she said in her own statement, “I will carefully consider the details and feedback from constituents before making a decision.”
Walorski, a freshman Republican, went on, though, touting a focus on legislation to promote job growth.
“Instead of passing more fiscally irresponsible polices that increase our national debt, Congress needs to focus on pro-growth reforms that will get Americans back to work,” Walorski said. She cited House passage of the SKILLS Act, approved with strong GOP support and Democratic opposition, saying it would help the long-term unemployed get job training, enabling them to re-enter the work force.
THE ROLE OF THE SHUTDOWN
In his statement, Bock, who works at the University of Notre Dame, also cited what he said was Walorski’s “central role” as a GOP member of the House in the federal government shutdown last October. The shutdown hampered economic recovery and figures in why unemployment benefits should be extended, he argued.
Walorski didn’t respond to the shutdown criticism.
The shutdown went into effect Oct. 1 after Senate Democrats rebuffed moves by the GOP-led House, supported by Walorski, to tie a continued spending resolution to dismantling of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Lawmakers ultimately reached accord Oct. 16 to end the shutdown, though Walorski opposed the plan.
The U.S. Senate approved a motion Tuesday allowing debate on a Senate bill to extend unemployment benefits. Both Indiana’s U.S. Senators, Republican Dan Coats and Democrat Joe Donnelly, voted in favor of the motion.
In a statement, Coats said he opposes the current version of the bill, but favors continued debate and hopes for improvements to the measure. If Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid doesn’t allow amendments, he’ll oppose final passage, Coats said.
Follow reporter Tim Vandenack on Twitter at @timvandenack.