WASHINGTON -- Not only would it be administratively difficult to give benefits back to the long-term jobless, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Tuesday, but it would be bad policy, too.
"I told the president I would consider this as long as it was paid for and as long as there were provisions attached that would actually help the economy and help people get back to work," Boehner said during a press conference. "Those conditions have not been met."
Boehner's remarks suggest that even if the Senate passes a bill reauthorizing benefits for the 2 million Americans who've missed out since December, the House would not consider the legislation. Since 2008, Congress has repeatedly reauthorized long-term unemployment insurance for people out of work six months or longer. But the federal benefits lapsed in December, and it doesn't seem like they're coming back.
If Congress did reauthorize the benefits, the National Association of State Workforce Agencies, a nonprofit that advocates for state labor departments, has said it would be difficult to implement changes outlined in Senate legislation. Boehner said their concerns mean the Senate bill is not "implementable."
"The Senate bill is retroactive to December 28th and only goes until May the 18th, and state directors of unemployment programs are saying we don't know who went back to work, we don't know who's still out there, so we'd have to send checks to everybody," Boehner said. "I don't think taxpayers expect us to do that so I don't see how it's workable."
U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, who served as director of Maryland's state workforce agency, said in a Friday letter that the legislation is, in fact, workable. After all, Congress has passed retroactive unemployment bills several times since 2008.
But even if Perez prevailed in that argument, Boehner restated his previous insistence that any bill reauthorizing unemployment insurance has to "create jobs." The Congressional Budget Office has said reauthorizing the federal benefits would increase employment by about 200,000 jobs this year, but House Republicans would rather see those jobs come from GOP proposals.