Heller votes for jobless benefits extension | NevadaAppeal.com

Heller votes for jobless benefits extension

Nevada Appeal Staff Report

U.S. Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., voted on Thursday to extend unemployment benefits to

1.3 million people through November, a measure that was blocked in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday.

The measure passed the House 270-153.

“The economic downturn has hit Nevada especially hard,” Heller said in a statement. “While I believe that this legislation should have been paid for, I cannot vote against the unemployment extension when so many Nevadans are struggling to get by.”

Heller said the Democratic majority blocked his amendment to use unused stimulus funds to pay for the unemployment benefit extension as well as COBRA premium assistance.

“There are ways to pay for this extension, and help the unemployed without contributing to the deficit,” Heller said.

For the third time in as many weeks, Republicans in the Senate successfully filibustered a similar measure Wednesday night before senators adjourned for vacation.

A little more than 1.3 million people have already lost benefits since the last extension ran out at the end of May, according to the Labor Department. By the end of the week, the number will jump to 1.7 million. By the end of July, it would top 3 million.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said President Barack Obama urges Republican Senate leaders to “end their obstruction of this critical aid.”

The bill would extend unemployment payments for up to a total of 99 weeks, for people whose state-paid benefits have run out. The benefits would be available through the end of November, at a cost of $33.9 billion. The money would have been borrowed, adding to the budget deficit.

The payments average a little more than $300 a week.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., a supporter of the bill, had to vote “nay” to take a procedural step that would allow for a re-vote. Even though the tally stood at 58-38, Democrats were in reality just one vote short of the 60 needed to beat the filibuster.

• The Associated Press contributed to this report.