Senate Democrats have launched a parliamentary maneuver to force majority Republicans to go on record for or against renewing federal jobless benefits for 37,000 unemployed North Carolinians.
The maneuver, called a “discharge petition,” is a way to force a bill out of committee and onto the floor for a vote. The bill to be discharged is a measure that would change the state’s unemployment formula to allow extended federal benefits to resume.
The discharge petition requires signatures from two-thirds of the Senate’s members. That will require some Republican support. So far, only Democrats have signed it. Nesbitt says each member will be asked to add his or her signature.
“We’re gonna keep this at the forefront,” Nesbitt pledged, saying the people whose benefits have been held up by the current political impasse “need somebody to advocate for them.”
“Those people are for real. They’re real-life workers,” Nesbitt told reporters Tuesday. “If we don’t do something to help them now, they’re gonna be in worse shape tomorrow than they were today. It just can’t get better for them out there until they can find a job.”
“It’s almost like intentional pain we’re inflicting on these people, to say 'I know you’re down and out, I know you’ve had the lick, but – and I know all I can do for you is about maybe 350 dollars a week, but I’m not gonna do that, either',” Nesbitt said.
“None of our skin in the game, no hide off of us. And we just won’t do it.”
Nesbitt also said his caucus is “anxious” about deep cuts to education and other services in the House budget. Referring to earlier comments by Senate Leader Phil Berger, Nesbitt said, “Apparently our leadership on the Senate side has indicated that ain’t nothing, that we’ll do even more than they’ve done.”
Nesbitt said Senate Dems are working to calculate the numbers of jobs cut in the Republican budget. “If in fact the estimates are right and we’re fixin’ to do away with 30,000 jobs in this state, that’s about three quarters of a percent on the unemployment rate.”
Watch Nesbitt’s unedited comments at right.