The U.S. Senate voted this week to extend for five months emergency unemployment benefits for nearly 3 million Americans who have been out of work for more than six months. Now, members of the Republican-controlled House, led by Speaker John Boehner, must tame their obstructionist egos and do what is right for people who are struggling to afford food and shelter while they seek elusive jobs.
The financial lifeline would retroactively restore federal benefits that were cut off last December to, among others, 86,000 Pennsylvanians. The aid, about $256 a week, would end next month unless lawmakers extend it again.
The economy is still sputtering, and many Americans remain unemployed through no fault of their own. Mr. Boehner insists that any extension of benefits must include provisions that he says would promote job growth. He also claims the extension would be too difficult for states to administer.
That is, the speaker is reaching for excuses, even as seven of his Republican colleagues have written him a letter pleading for compromise. Mr. Boehner has not offered a comprehensive alternative, but there is no need for House members to attach extraneous issues to legislation that is meant to help their constituents in need.
Senators finally reached agreement despite partisan politics that slowed their eventual consensus. Because of that delay, the House needs to approve the extension without additional foot-dragging. The crisis of long-term jobless Americans is immediate.
House Republicans must show they are capable of compromise, especially on a measure that directly assists people who voted to put them in office. And they need to act without further delay.