House Speaker Nancy Pelosi slammed Senate Republicans Thursday for failing to reauthorize funding for a subsidized jobs program that has created 240,000 jobs in 37 states.
The federal wage subsidy will expire Sept. 30 unless Congress extends the program by ponying up another $2.5 billion.
"It's been as positive an initiative for job creation as you can make," Pelosi told reporters after a speech at San Francisco State University Thursday. "Unfortunately -- you'll hear me say this many times -- we have passed it over and over again in the House, waiting for some action from the Senate."
The Emergency Fund was created by the stimulus to assist states with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families programs. A House approved bill that would have reauthorized the funds was shot down in May with Senate Republicans citing deficit concerns.
Pelosi said that unless Congress extends the funds, national unemployment will rise, and she noted that 3,500 people in her hometown of San Francisco will lose their jobs. In Los Angeles, where the program is especially large, as many as 10,000 jobs are on the line. And in the state of Illinois, 20,000 jobs could be at stake.
The bill "has an immediate impact on job creation -- private sector jobs creation and nonprofit sector jobs creation" Pelosi said, adding that many of the business owners she's met with have lauded the program, saying and that when the economy turns around they want to keep the new, subsidized hires on at our own expense.
But Pelosi says everything hangs on mustering 60 votes in the Senate, and things don't look good.
"I don't have to go into that story on how difficult that is to get 60 votes -- even for a job-creating initiative that is successful and reduces the deficit," Pelosi said."I can only predict that we will have to continue to work very hard to get it passed. It's such common sense but again [the Republican] approach is to say no to anything that creates jobs because [they] want the status quo to continue until election day -- it's very hard to persuade the Republicans to vote for this."
Pelosi explained that the underlying difficulty in mustering the requisite number of votes is above all an election issue. Pelosi expressed exasperation over how hard it is to get even "one Republican" to vote for a measure that "promotes jobs, reduces the deficit, and helps the American people -- and not wait for after the election to do that."