Democrats and Republicans in the Senate each have bills to renew the federal unemployment benefits program that kicks in after state benefits are exhausted. Ideastream's Nick Castele reports Ohio Sen. Rob Portman is a major player in the latest GOP effort.
Under the Republican plan, states would have the option of requiring recipients of jobless benefits to go into training programs -- or to do volunteer work. The plan also says workers would lose benefits if they turn down a suitable job offer.
The extension would last until the end of May. Portman says in the meantime he wants to make more changes to the program. In a weekly conference call with reporters, he said while there are job openings posted in Ohio, many workers may not have the know-how yet to qualify.
"A lot of them do require skills that people may or may not have, who are moving from, say, a manufacturing job, who are mid-career, and have to go into let's say a higher tech manufacturing job, an IT job, a bioscience job,"Portman saud. "So the notion is to provide them with better skills training."
Meanwhile, Democrats have their own plan that would extend benefits until the end of June without additional training requirements. It's paid for with savings from the recently passed Farm Bill, while the GOP plan pays for the extension by eliminating offering jobless benefits to people on disability, and other measures.
Both bills would retroactively offer benefits to people who would have qualified since the program expired in December.