Most House Republicans voted Wednesday against a bill to extend unemployment benefits by three m0nths. The bill fell three votes short of the two-thirds required for passage.
Voting with every Democrat -- and just 48 other Republicans -- for the measure was Republican Rep. Robin Hayes, who represents North Carolina's 8th District.
Voting to extend unemployment benefits is good politics, particularly in a district hit hard by the economic downturn and a vanishing textile industry. It's probably no coincidence that of the 10 Republicans in races rated as toss-ups by the Cook Political Report, seven -- including Hayes --- joined Democrats in supporting the bill.
The vote also gives Hayes ammunition in his latest attack on Democratic opponent Larry Kissell. In a new ad, he's criticized Kissell for not paying payroll taxes for his campaign workers.
“Extending unemployment benefits is the right thing to do, but we have to realize that these benefits are primarily funded by employers who pay taxes into the trust fund,” Hayes said in a news release today. “Larry Kissell wants to be in congress so he can vote on issues like unemployment benefits. But his campaign has manipulated the system to avoid paying the taxes that fund these unemployment benefits. The irony here is so thick you could cut it with a knife.”
Kissell's campaign says all of its employees have been treated as independent contractors who pay their own taxes, although field workers hired this month will be full-time employees whose taxes will be paid by the campaign.
Another Republican who voted to extend jobless benefits was Rep. Patrick McHenry of Cherryville. Unemployment rates in 9 of his ten 10th District counties exceed the state average.
McHenry also faces what could be a tough fight against Democrat Daniel Johnson.