Democrats and Republicans are quarreling over a bill that would put the State of Iowa in line for $14.5 million in federal money that is to be paid to Iowans who’ve been unemployed for over a year. The bill cleared the Democratically-led Iowa Senate this week.

 Senate President Jack Kibbie, a Democrat from Emmetsburg, says over seven-thousand Iowans would be helped. “So this legislation is vital for those folks. It does not cost business one dime and it takes care of these people for 13 additional weeks of unemployment.”

Democrats say state officials have ’til next Thursday, March 10th, to apply for the federal money. But House Republican Leader Linda Upmeyer of Garner says there are no plans to fast-track it for passage in the House.

“However, you know, we’ll go back and look at it, to see if it’s imperative to address by the 10th,” she says. “But it’s not on the list today.” Republicans like House Speaker Kraig Paulsen of Hiawatha question whether the bill might make those extended unemployment benefits permanent, meaning business taxes would go up in 2012 when the federal money is no longer available.

“The House Republican Caucus is not interested in making it harder to be an employer in the state of Iowa,” Paulsen says. Senate President Kibbie says businesses won’t be required to pay “one more dime” in taxes if the House passes the bill. “So I think it’s extremely important that Iowans contact their House members…(and ask them to) move this bill forward,” Kibbie says.

Democrats estimate 7,150 Iowans who’ve been unemployed for a year would qualify for the 13 additional weeks of unemployment benefits. Republicans complain long-term unemployed Iowans are taking jobs and quitting after a day so they can resume getting an unemployment check that’s the responsibility of their previous employer.