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House Speaker Boehner: Jobless aid extension won't work

| Wednesday, March 19, 2014, 9:21 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Speaker of the House John Boehner said on Wednesday that a Senate plan to extend long-term unemployment benefits retroactively “is simply unworkable” once a state officials group warned of implementation problems.

The National Association of State Workforce Agencies wrote in a letter that some states may find the plan's verification requirements too costly and onerous, and could try to opt out.

The bill's requirements “would cause considerable delays in the implementation of the program and increased administrative issues and costs,” NASWA President Mark Henry wrote to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

The Senate is expected to vote in coming weeks on bipartisan legislation to renew the jobless benefits for the first five months of 2014 that would put an average of $300 per week into the hands of long-term unemployed workers. The checks would be retroactive to Dec. 29, 2013.

For Boehner, whose House Republican caucus has shown little interest in extending unemployment benefits, the letter from the state officials' group bolsters the case for opposing the Senate plan. He said it was “cause for serious concern.”

Boehner said Republicans still would look at an unemployment benefits extension bill from Democrats that is “fiscally responsible” and helps to make more private-sector jobs.

“There is no evidence that the bill being rammed through the Senate by Leader Reid meets that test, and according to these state directors, the bill is also simply unworkable,” Boehner said in a statement.

Reid's spokesman Adam Jentleson said Democrats believe that concerns raised by the state officals are “resolvable” and urged Boehner to help craft solutions.

“It is hard to imagine Speaker Boehner simply walking away from the thousands of people in Ohio who lost their jobs through no fault of their own and need this lifeline to make ends meet while they continue to look for work,” Jentleson said.

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