Extending long-term unemployment benefits is not critical to reaching a budget deal, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said on Sunday. The long-term benefits expire at year's end and while Democrats have pushed for an extension, they appear to be open to passing it outside of a budget agreement.
"I don't think we've reached that point where we say this is it, take it or leave it," Durbin said on ABC's This Week. He added that he hoped an extension would be a part of negotiations over a year-end budget agreement.
"I certainly hope as part of it that the negotiators will take to heart what the president had to say: there are working families across America that are struggling," Durbin said.
President Obama used his Saturday address to call for an extension of the benefits. And House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said this week that Democrats in that chamber could not support a budget agreement without an extension of those unemployment benefits, though she later walked back those remarks by saying that an extension could come separately.