(WASHINGTON) — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi Monday accused Republicans of acting “cruelly” by failing to extend unemployment benefits before leaving Washington for the holiday, as she outlined the case for Congress to pass an extension.
“I don’t know if our Republican colleagues don’t know or don’t care about the impact of this cruel policy, but I have to assume they do care. And the more they know, the better the chance of passing legislation,” she told reporters on a conference call.
The Minority Leader argued that extending unemployment insurance can help boost the economy. “That money is injected and spent immediately, injecting demand into the economy, creating jobs for every dollar, it’s about $1.70 return to the economy in a very fast way, economists tell us, stimulating the economy,” she said.
Pelosi said she would accept a three-month extension. “If it was going to be three months to take us into the next year to give us time to have a more — a fuller debate for our Republican colleagues to have a growing awareness of what this means to their constituents and their district, their purchasing power, the vitality of the economy of their own areas, then that would be a good thing,” she explained.
However, she said she does not “necessarily subscribe to the idea that the unemployment benefits need to paid for,” which is a sticking point for Republicans.
“Workers pay into a system as they are working. We have always considered this an emergency, an emergency that springs from a downturn in the economy, and that therefore there… does not need to be an offset to it,” she said.
Mary Low, a mother from Ironton, Ohio, is one of the roughly 1.3 million Americans whose jobless benefits are set to expire on Saturday.
“I can’t believe they left before extending this unemployment insurance. I mean, it’s like, the degree of callous indifference displayed by some of the lawmakers is just beyond comprehension,” she told reporters on the call, as she choked back tears. “And I hope and I beg they must restore these and renew these benefits and do it without delay. I mean, that’s all I can say because it directly will impact whether I keep my home.”
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