Vulnerable NH Dem Senator Expresses Concern Over Biden's Unemployment Policies Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., speaks at a Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs/Rules and Administration Committee hearing March 3, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (Shawn Thew/Getty Images)
By Brian Freeman | Wednesday, 12 May 2021 09:30 AM
Expanded unemployment insurance is "making it easier for people to stay home," New Hampshire Democrat Sen. Maggie Hassan told a business roundtable last week, undermining the White House's defense of extending the benefit through the summer, The Washington Free Beacon reported.
Hassan, who faces what is expected to be the most difficult reelection battle for a Democrat senator next year, made the statement in an attempt to reassure a state resident that the Democrat majority in the Senate is working to bring President Joe Biden's spending under control.
"I will tell you that in the Senate, we're having this conversation about how do you tweak this just right," Hassan said. "And, if the economy is truly recovering and schools can truly reopen, should we be tweaking that right now."
Although Hassan also attributed worry over the pandemic and a lack of child care as additional reasons for people to be wary of going to work, she expressed concern "the unemployment benefit is making it easier for people to stay home," according to the Free Beacon.
A day after Hassan made the comments, the Labor Department reported that employers added only 266,000 jobs in April, which was extremely disappointing, as it was far below the expected increase of 1 million for the month.
Congressional Republicans were quick to blame the poor report on the expanded unemployment benefits, which Biden's American Rescue Plan extended through Sep. 6.
The GOP has argued that the extra $300 per week in unemployment insurance is better than the hourly salaries offered by many jobs, creating a disincentive for people to work.
To this end, several red state governors have decided not to participate in the federal unemployment programs and will withdraw completely from receiving the benefits by the middle of next month.
Republican Sen. Ben Sasse has also introduced legislation to convert the expanded unemployment benefit into a signing bonus for those who get a job.
Biden, however, has argued that his policy was not the cause of the employment crisis.
Although Biden has encouraged states to reinstitute a pre-coronavirus pandemic policy of requiring recipients to prove that they are looking for work in order to qualify for the benefit, he has also staunchly defended his overall policy.
"The line has been because of the generous unemployment benefits, that it's a major factor in labor shortages,” Biden said. "Americans want to work. I think the people claiming Americans won't work even if they find a good and fair opportunity underestimate the American people."
Hassan, who voted for and praised Biden's American Rescue Plan at the time of its passage, won the 2016 election by only 1,017 votes over Republican incumbent Kelly Ayotte.
Ayotte is thought to be a potential contender for the Senate seat next year, according to the Concord Monitor.
Republican Gov. Chris Sununu, who won the election for governor in 2016 after Hassan decided not to run again in order to be a candidate for the Senate, is also reportedly mulling a GOP challenge against Hassan next year.