July 20, 2010

Crapo: Don't Use Unemployment To Justify Increased Debt

Supports deficit-neutral alternative extension

Washington, D.C. - The U.S. Senate plans to pile another $34 billion onto the national debt this week with a nearly party-line vote, extending unemployment benefits without providing payment for them. Idaho Senator Mike Crapo supported an alternative measure that would have provided additional benefits for those who have exhausted their six months of benefits, but would have paid for that using unspent stimulus funds. Crapo said that the new extension should have been done in a manner that matches the budget planning that many Idaho families undertake.

"A number of Idahoans are facing extended time without employment, and I joined with my Republicans colleagues to develop plans that would extend benefits to them and other Americans without affecting the national debt," Crapo said. "Idaho families must budget their own money to accommodate their own needs, and Congress should do the same thing. With the $3.8 trillion budget, Congress should fund for emergencies like unemployment extensions, but it should do so in a manner that doesn't push even more spending onto future generations. There are unspent stimulus dollars that can be used for this economic emergency, and that should be the first place to look."

Instead, a majority of Senators approved moving ahead with the legislation through a procedural cloture vote. A final vote on the legislation is expected later this evening and is expected to pass on a nearly party-line vote. Crapo opposed cloture and will vote against the version of the unemployment extension that will add $34 billion to the deficit without offsets.

On five recent occasions, Senate Republican leadership offered alternative proposals to provide for extended unemployment benefits, while cutting an equal amount of spending from other parts of the federal budget. These proposals were all rejected by the Senate majority. "Americans are demanding fiscal responsibility, and the deficit-neutral alternative I voted for would provide the extended unemployment assistance without further mortgaging our children's future," Crapo concluded.