WASHINGTON — In a letter to senators Friday, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez said that House Speaker John Boehner was wrong to say the Senate's unemployment insurance extension bill is "unworkable."
In the letter addressed to Sens. Harry Reid, Mitch Mcconnell, Jack Reed, and Dean Heller, Perez addressed major issues brought up earlier this week by the National Association of State Workforce Agencies, which Boehner cited Wednesday to denounce his support for the UI deal.
"From the Great Recession to the present, the Congress has worked in a bipartisan fashion to enact twelve different expansions or extensions to the EUC program," Perez wrote. "A number of the extensions included changes to the program that were as or more complex than those included in the current bill. The Department of Labor has consistently worked with states to implement these extensions in an effective, collaborative and prompt fashion, and will do so again."
One GOP aide told BuzzFeed he wasn't impressed by the secretary's response.
"Is their rapid response team using carrier pigeons? Did a magnetic cassette get jammed in their Commodore 64?" the aide said. "Look, the state insurance administrators raise serious issues, and a Friday night news-dump isn't going to change that."
Perez's letter parses the NASWA's concerns into four issues: antiquated technology that could make it difficult for states to implement the program, lack of clarity in some aspects of the bill, difficulty administering the millionaire exemption, and difficulty to make the retroactive payments.
Though Perez offers little in terms of specifics, he commits to the Labor Department's ability and willingness to make sure all goes according to plan if the bill passes.
"It would be virtually unprecedented for the Congress to fail to extend EUC benefits under the current circumstances," Perez wrote.