WASHINGTON HJB — WASHINGTON -- Gov. William Donald Schaefer broke from his fellow Democratic governors urging President Bush to sign a measure extending benefits to the unemployed because he prefers that Congress and the president find a solution not adding to the federal deficit, a spokesman for the governor said yesterday.
Mr. Schaefer's 27 Democratic colleagues wrote the president and urged him to sign a bill that would declare an economic emergency and offer up to 20 extra weeks of unemployment benefits to some 3 million Americans who have exhausted their regular 26 weeks of benefits.
The House on Tuesday by a 283-125 vote sent to the Senate a $6.4 billion measure that would provide the extended benefits. The entire Maryland House delegation voted in favor of the bill, which is expected to be taken up by the Senate as early as today. The legislation is similar to a bill passed by Congress last month that would extend benefits after the president declared an economic emergency. But the president failed to declare an emergency, saying he didn't want to add to the deficit.
The bill passed by the House Tuesday would waive the declaration of an economic emergency and benefits would flow after the presidential signature. Governor Schaefer "didn't think that the emergency was the way to go," said Kenneth Mannella, director of the state's Washington office, who said the governor favors extended benefits. "He's hopeful that Congress and the president can work out something without impacting the deficit."
The governor offered no specific suggestions regarding a solution. But Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole of Kansas is pushing a substitute that would cost about half as much and provide a maximum of 10 weeks of additional benefits. Mr. Dole's proposal would auction unused radio frequencies to pay for added benefits.