WASHINGTON -- A Republican governor has joined Democrats in calling on Congress to reauthorize long-term unemployment insurance.
Brian Sandoval of Nevada co-signed a letter asking House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to restore benefits to the 2 million workers who've missed out since Congress let federal jobless aid lapse in December. The Senate passed a bipartisan bill that restores the benefits through May, but the House won't budge despite persistent long-term joblessness.
"When our country has experienced similar rates of long-term unemployment in the past, Congress has consistently acted in a bipartisan fashion to extend emergency unemployment benefits," wrote Sandoval and Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee (D).
While additional Republican support represents a modest boost for Democrats' effort to revive the benefits, it's unlikely to change Boehner's mind. House Republicans have suggested they'd only support the benefits if Democrats gave them such unlikely prizes as the Keystone XL pipeline and major changes to the Affordable Care Act.
Sandoval and Chafee, whose states have the highest unemployment rates in the country, rejected Boehner's claim that the Senate bill is unworkable because state workforce agencies would have a hard time catching up with everyone whose benefits lapsed in December.
"Despite these challenges, our states are more than capable of implementing this legislation, including the administration of retroactive benefits, which we have successfully done in the past," the pair wrote.
Congress is currently on a two-week break, and will return to work April 28.