Has the GOP overplayed another hand?

Note: Please credit Lauren Victoria Burke at Crew of 42 for her excellent reporting.

Chairman Dave Camp of the House Ways and Means Committee may have overplayed the GOP's hand by introducing the "JOBS Act" in the same committee as H.R. 589.

Exhibit A: Chairman Emanuel Cleaver of the Congressional Black Caucus. Last month, the Congressman appeared decidedly cool to the idea of supporting H.R. 589:

In an exchange during their meeting last Wednesday with the President, CBC Chair Emanuel Cleaver called the cost of the 99ers bill (H.R. 589 sponsored by Rep. Barbara Lee of California) "prohibitive."

In Rep. Cleaver’s words: "It was what I expected because my staff had done a lot of research on it. And we found that the cost of that program would be between $14 and 20 billion dollars which is cost prohibitive. So there was no point in the President saying, "yeah I support it…' when I laid it out I said to him, 'Mr. President, I'm going to raise this, and this is one of our issues because this is one of our issues — it's an issue among our members…' I ended it by saying, however, I understand that the cost is enormous. He (President Obama) said (to Rob Nabors sitting on the sofa) 'Rob how much is it?' And Rob said, 'between 14 and 20 billion' and I said, let's move on. Because there was no point — that's not going to happen," recounted Cleaver.

And now, Chairman Cleaver has released this statement in response to the GOP's "JOBS Act":

"For the 16th straight month, we have seen growth in private sector jobs — last month being the strongest for job growth since February 2006. Nevertheless, the overall unemployment rate increased by .2% and unemployment in the African American community has increased by .6% to a painful 16.1%. The fact still remains that millions of Americans are still out of work. After four months of controlling the House, the Republican leadership has not considered or introduced one, single jobs bill. Instead, they have proposed draconian cuts first with their budget proposals. Now the Ways and Means Chairman is attempting to strip unemployment benefits thereby denying millions of Americans the ability to make ends meet with HR 1745, which is paradoxically named the Jobs Act of 2011.

"Camp's legislation would eliminate federal payments for temporary extended unemployment benefits on July 6. Four million Americans will lose their extended benefits in early July unless states provide coverage for them. The bill would transfer money to the states now dedicated to providing extended unemployment benefits and allow the states to use it for other purposes. This includes paying off debts to the federal government, providing tax cuts to businesses and/or backfilling state and federal cuts to employment–related services.

"Not only is this unacceptable, it is reprehensible. I support my colleagues Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Congressman Bobby Scott on HR 589, the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Act of 2011. This needed legislation would extend aid for unemployed workers who have exhausted their benefits. We urge the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee to support hardworking American families and to support their bill."


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