Announcing Democrats’ priorities for 2014, Majority Leader Harry Reid placed the extension of unemployment benefits at the top of the Senate’s to-do list for next year.
“It’s a good bill, and it deserves a vote,” Reid said in a news conference today.
An extension of the benefits for the unemployed was among the items left undone on Congress’ agenda in 2013, and the benefits are set to expire for 1.3 million people Dec 28. Reid said he would bring up a vote on the bill, which would extend unemployment benefits for three months, no later than Jan. 7.
House Speaker John Boehner has previously expressed a willingness to extend the benefits, but he wants the costs to be offset with spending reductions.
Senate Democrats also said they would focus on increasing the minimum wage and fighting income inequality in the new year.
“This is just the first step,” Reid of Nevada said. “We need to raise the minimum wage. We need to take other measures that will help address income inequality in this country.”
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, said, “Issues like job creation, minimum wage and unemployment insurance are going to weigh on the minds of voters far more than Obamacare by the time the 2014 elections roll around.”