NC Senate squares off over jobless benefits

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger says he plans no further action to restore jobless benefits to 37,000 people. Senate Democrats hope to change his mind.

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Laura Leslie

More than 37,000 North Carolinians left without federal jobless benefits were no doubt happy to hear Sen. Tom Apodaca say Senate Republicans would seek an end to the political impasse that has stalled their checks.

Apodaca told the Asheville Citizen-Times last weekend the Senate would work on a non-political compromise to fix the formula and restore benefits this week.  "You’ll see the nobler path come,” he pledged. 

Today, Senate Leader Phil Berger bluntly denied that any such attempt was underway.

“We have no plans to move either a different bill or another vehicle” to restore the benefits, Berger said. “We’ve passed the bill. The governor vetoed it. Our position remains the same.” He added that House Democrats could still join the GOP to override Perdue’s veto.

Meantime, Senate Minority Leader Martin Nesbitt said the Senate’s Democratic caucus will hold a public hearing Wednesday afternoon to highlight the plight of the jobless people left in limbo by the political games in Raleigh.

Nesbitt says the impasse between Perdue and GOP lawmakers is costing the state about $11 million a week in federal benefits. He says there’s a bipartisan bill waiting in committee that could make the changes needed to restore the benefits in one day.

“In the middle of all the point-scoring over here, these people have been lost. We need to bring them back front and center,” Nesbitt said. “This just plain and simple should not be a part of our political contest.”  

Watch Nesbitt’s press conference below.


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