This morning on "This Week," Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer took a swipe at Republican Sen. Rand Paul, saying he thought it was "insulting" that the Kentucky senator argued that it is a "disservice" to continue unemployment benefits for workers after a certain period.
"Most of the people I meet who are on unemployment are people who have had jobs for 25 years, lost them, they've been knocking on doors every week," Schumer said on "This Week. "I think it's a little insulting, a bit insulting to American workers when Rand Paul says that unemployment insurance is a disservice."
"They want to work, they don't want unemployment benefits," the New York senator added. "They're just hanging on with unemployment benefits, you cut them off, they may lose the house they paid for, take their kids out of college. So I would hope he would reconsider, past the three month extension."
Paul, appearing on "This Week" before Schumer, seemed to indicate he'd be open to extending unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed if the costs are paid for, while still arguing such an extension would provide some disincentive to work.
"What I have always said is that it needs to be paid for, but we also need to do something for long-term unemployed people and that is we need to create something new that would create jobs," Paul said. "So what I'd like to do when we get back is one, if we extend it we pay for it, but two, we add something to it that would create jobs."
"I do think, though, that the longer you have it, that it provides some disincentive to work, and that there are many studies that indicate this," Paul added. "So, what I've been saying all along, we have to figure out how to create jobs and keep people from becoming long-term unemployed."
The proposal to extend unemployment benefits for 1.3 million Americans who saw their payments stop Dec. 28 will run through a crucial gauntlet Monday as the senate returns from holiday break to consider a temporary three-month extension. And while a number of Republicans have suggested openness to joining the majority Democrats in support, disagreement over its $6.5 billion price tag means the upcoming vote is anything but assured.
Democrats used the promise of an extension as a bargaining chip in the budget deal made with the GOP last month. But opponents have countered that they could not support such a measure unless it was offset with cuts elsewhere. Meanwhile, the hope for many in both parties is that the temporary extension, if it passes, could be used as a stopgap while a comprehensive unemployment insurance agreement is negotiated as the winter drags on.
During his interview this morning on "This Week," Schumer also expressed optimism about the possibility of immigration reform passing this year.
"Bottom line is I think that it's likely we will get immigration reform this year," Schumer said. "The reason is simple I think, there are large parts of the Republican party, even conservative parts of the Republican party, that want this - business, evangelical churches, Catholic church, high-tech, growers, so it's not like some of the budget issues where all of the Republicans are on one side."
"Second thing, the Republican leadership realizes that if we don't do immigration and get immigration reform done, it hurts them politically," Schumer added.