Durbin lobbies GOP-lead House for federal benefits extension

December 20, 2011

City Desk

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, is lobbying the House to extend some federal benefits by year's end.

On Tuesday, the House rejected a two-month extension of unemployment benefits and the payroll tax cut that overwhelmingly passed the Senate last week. Both are set to expire on Jan. 1.

Durbin says more than 50,000 Illinoisans could start losing their unemployment benefits if the measure is not passed.

Speaking before the House vote, Durbin accused House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, of losing control of the GOP House caucus.

"He cannot say no to some of the more radical members of the house republican caucus," said Durbin. "And because he goes along with them, we find ourselves in this impossible position."

Some House Republicans have argued that extending the benefits for two months is not long enough and are pushing for a year-long extension, something the Senate couldn't agree to last week.

Speaking after the vote, Boehner asked President Barack Obama to call the Senate back to Washington D.C.

"I need the president to help out," said Boehner in a news conference on Tuesday.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said he won't negotiate until the House approves the Senate's two-month package.