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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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January 6th, 2014
06:00 PM ET

Labor Secretary: Unemployment insurance does not deter jobless from looking for work

(CNN) - The U.S. Senate votes Monday on a bill to restore unemployment benefits for nearly 1.3 million Americans.

The bill would extend long-term jobless benefits, originally introduced after the banking crash of 2008 under then-President George W. Bush. They actually already expired on December 28.

President Barack Obama and many in his party want to reinstate and extend unemployment insurance - but that was not included in the bipartisan budget deal that Congress passed before the end of the year.

"Extending unemployment benefits has historically enjoyed overwhelming bipartisan support," Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez said on CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper." "President Bush signed laws into effect for emergency unemployment compensation five times. And it was done on a bipartisan fashion five times."

Members returning from visiting their constituents have probably heard about hardships.

"People are suffering because I have met them. They have gone to emergency situations," says Perez.

Members opposed to extending unemployment insurance say they want it to be paid for, and worry about dependency on the benefits.

"I do think, though, that the longer you have (unemployment insurance), that it does provide some disincentive to work," Republican Senator Rand Paul, of Kentucky, told ABC News.

"One of the requirements for the receipt of emergency unemployment benefits is that you must keep looking for a job," Perez said in response.

"Evidence demonstrates that when you remove these benefits, and people become even more detached from the labor market, that has a worsening effect because they get even more discouraged," said Perez.

The Labor Secretary said he has spoken to many people who have been looking for work for a long time.

"The last thing they want to do is sit home and watch television. They want a job, they want the dignity of work," said Perez.

For more of our interview with Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, check out the video above.

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