WASHINGTON -- Ricki Ward says she will either have to sell her car or lose her apartment at the end of the month.
Ward, who lives in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., is one of the 1.3 million Americans who stopped receiving payments when Congress allowed long-term unemployment benefits to lapse at the end of December. Ward, 59, said she had been laid off from her customer service job for a cable provider in March 2013 and, while she had received some help from family members, continued to fall further behind.
"I now have to decide if I'm going to sell my car to keep my home, or lose my home and live in my car," she said in an email to HuffPost on Tuesday. "My family is tapped out and can no longer help."
Two weeks ago, a bipartisan group of senators announced a deal on legislation that would extend benefits through the end of May. Under the bill, people who've missed benefits would receive retroactive payments. Given the additional 70,000 who have been dropped from long-term unemployment benefits each week since they expired in December, that number has reached roughly 2 million.
But House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) suggested Wednesday the House wouldn't consider the Senate bill to extend federal long-term unemployment insurance unless the Senate works to pass jobs proposals offered by Republicans.
"I made clear that if we're going to consider dealing with unemployment -- emergency unemployment -- we've got to do something about creating better jobs in America, higher wages in America," Boehner said. "The Senate is sitting on dozens of bills that we've sent over there. I think it's time for the Senate to work with the House to get the economy moving again. That's the real issue."
Boehner's comments reiterated remarks he made the day before, in which he suggested restoring the benefits would be bad policy.
The Congressional Budget Office has said the unemployment insurance measure would increase employment, but unlike in some other debates, Republicans have mostly ignored the CBO's findings.
The group of five Republican senators who worked on the compromise bill -- Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) -- have dismissed Boehner's concerns about the bill. The Senate is expected to vote on its measure in the coming days.
“I knew that [House Republicans] would have some issues with it," Heller told Politico. "I think it’s pretty palatable for their side. It is paid for. We had to limit the amount of time to five months. There are some good arguments to having this done.”
If Congress reauthorized the benefits, Ward and the millions of others would receive retroactive payments, meaning a lump-sum check. Ward could use it to catch up on rent.
Ward has followed the news closely as her living situation has continued to deteriorate. "My cell was shut off yesterday, my Internet is scheduled for shut off this Friday and I lost my car insurance," she said in an email. "I did, however, get food stamps, which I did not want to do, but I am very hungry. I may not have a home, but I have food. Don't they care about the irreversible damage they are doing to millions?"
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