What with a crisis potentially boiling over in Ukraine this very weekend, and Congress taking a week off, and with a thousand other distractions, it would be easy for the Senate agreement reached yesterday on extended unemployment insurance to be squandered. Here’s a status report from WaPo’s Paul Kane:
Ten senators, evenly divided among Democrats and Republicans, announced the pact and set up a timeline in which the legislation could pass the Senate in late March.
Its outcome in the House remains up in the air, however. Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), who has opposed previous Senate plans as insufficient in providing offsetting cuts, did not offer a statement on the new proposal.
What Boehner has found the time for is a threat to move legislation in the House this very day linking an impending elimination of the annual ritual of putting aside scheduled Medicare provider cuts to a demand for a five-year delay in Obamacare’s individual mandate.
This latest bout of House GOP hostage-taking developed before the Senate UI deal, so I’m not arguing it was an diversionary tactic. But on a more general level, it does perfectly symbolize Republican efforts to keep the focus on Obamacare rather than dealing with the economy or the unemployed. It is rather important that Democrats–and the Senate Republicans who have broken with their leadership and surely don’t want to suffer the consequences without getting something done–demand a House vote on the UI package.