Cleaver Says Cost of 99ers Bill “Prohibitive” at Obama Meeting. In an exchange during their meeting last Wednesday with the President, CBC Chair Emanuel Cleaver called the cost of the 99ers bill (H.R. 589 sponsored by Rep. Barbara Lee of California) “prohibitive.”
In Rep. Cleaver’s words: “It was what I expected because my staff had done a lot of research on it. And we found that the cost of that program would be between $14 and 20 billion dollars which is cost prohibitive. So there was no point in the President saying, ‘yeah I support it…’ when I laid it out I said to him, ‘Mr. President, I’m going to raise this, and this is one of our issues because this is one of our issues — it’s an issue among our members…’ I ended it by saying, however, I understand that the cost is enormous. He (President Obama) said (to Rob Nabors sitting on the sofa) ‘Rob how much is it?’ And Rob said, ‘between 14 and 20 billion’ and I said, let’s move on. Because there was no point — that’s not going to happen,” recounted Cleaver.
Rob Nabors is the White House Director of Legislative Affairs, former Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget. The above exchange may explain why Rep. Barbara Lee went silent and did not comment last week as I asked her had she heard any 99er news from the White House meeting. Lee, a member of the Appropriations Committee, has said in the recent past that there is a way to pay for the bill. The other factor is that the legislation has not been scored by GAO. The total price of the legislation has always been a point of discussion. Reps. Lee and Bobby Scott have a meeting with Speaker Boehner and Eric Cantor on H.R. 589 later this week. I already called around for reaction and response regarding this exchange has been slow or non existent — not unlike most things on Capitol Hill.
Interestingly, unemployment extensions and the plight of the 99ers was one of five subjects brought up by the five members of the CBC meeting with the President on Wednesday. The members present were Reps. Emanuel Cleaver, G.K. Butterfield, Yvette Clarke, Andre Carson and Del. Donna Christensen of the Virgin Islands.