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Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader: Unemployment benefits extension unlikely to pass

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Rep. Kurt Schrader, an Oregon Democrat who is a member of the House Budget Committee, said Thursday he doesn’t think unemployment benefits set to expire for approximately 1.3 million Americans later this month will be extended, either this month or next.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, says that extension of the insurance should have been part of the budget deal brokered by Rep. Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, and Sen. Patty Murray, Washington Democrat, but that he’ll push for an extension in the New Year.

But Mr. Schrader says he doesn’t think an extension will get through the GOP-led House or the Senate.

“I don’t think [Mr. Reid’s] going to get 60 votes on the Senate side,” he said Thursday on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal.” “This is tough right now, and I’m going to be honest — I’m of a mixed opinion on whether it should be extended and, if so, who should be getting that at this point in time.”

“Ostensibly we’re three years past the recession. It’s still very tough … lot of folks in my state still struggling [to] put food on the table; they’ve got kids,” he continued. “These are no malingerers or shiftless people — these are hardworking Americans just down on their luck right now.

“I’m interested in what sort of opportunities we could come up with, but at some point, you know, we have to be looking to take the jobs that were not the jobs we had before,” he said.

A one-year federal extension would cost about $26 billion.

Economists generally say unemployment benefits help the economy because they allow recipients to spend money quickly on household needs.

“If Congress refuses to act, it won’t just hurt families already struggling — it will actually harm our economy,” President Obama said Saturday in his weekly address. “Unemployment insurance is one of the most effective ways there is to boost our economy.”

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