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Democrats to Re-Vote on Unemployment Extension


Today in the House of Representatives, Democrats will try again to pass a measure that would offer an extra cushion for out-of-work Americans. Yesterday, a plan to fast track extended unemployment benefits failed. NPR's Debbie Elliott reports.

DEBBIE ELLIOTT: House Democrats pointed to the nation's growing economic woes and rising unemployment rate as they made their case for extending jobless benefits.


Representative CHARLIE RANGEL (Democrat, New York): At some point when we get home, somebody's going to ask us how did we vote.

ELLIOTT: House Weighs and Means Committee Chairman Charlie Rangel.

Rep. Rangel: And as they put together their budgets and try to figure out the rent and the mortgages situation, the gas prices, I just hope that you perfect the arguments, those of you that oppose this bill, in such a way that you expect they would understand what they heck you're talking about.

Unidentified Man: Gentleman's time has expired.

ELLIOTT: The bill would extend the usual six-month unemployment payments by 13 weeks, 26 in the hardest hit states. The White House and Republican leaders objected to the nationwide approach.


House minority leader John Boehner.

Representative JOHN BOEHNER (Republican, Ohio; House Minority Leader): If we're going to be serious about spending tax payer money, we ought to target that money to those areas where we have high unemployment and where people need our help.

ELLIOTT: Democrats were three votes shy of the two-thirds majority needed. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer called it a sad vote and vowed to try again.

Representative STENY HOYER (Democrat, Maryland; House Majority Leader): We're not going to let this stand. It is not in good conscience the proper policy for us to walk away from taking this action.

ELLIOTT: Hoyer expects the benefit extension to pass under regular House rules today.

Debbie Elliott, NPR News, the Capitol. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.