(Updates with Obama plan on unemployment benefits in seventh paragraph.)
Dec. 8 (Bloomberg) -- About 100 demonstrators protesting joblessness gathered outside an office of House Speaker John Boehner in Washington today, chanting slogans as police looked on and dispersing peacefully after about an hour.
“One, we’re unemployed, two, we are united. Three, tell the speaker we’re not leaving,” the protesters said in unison outside Boehner’s personal office, located across the street from the U.S. Capitol in the Longworth House Office Building.
Boehner, an Ohio Republican, rarely works out of that office and wasn’t there during the protest. Since becoming speaker in January 2011, he uses offices in the Capitol.
The protest came as Boehner released legislation that, while extending unemployment benefits set to expire at year’s end, also would reduce the eligibility period for the aid.
Under Boehner’s proposal, the maximum period for the jobless benefits would be scaled back in steps to 59 weeks from the current 99 weeks. The provision is part of a package that also would extend a payroll tax cut for workers scheduled to end Dec. 31.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, told reporters that she opposed shrinking the maximum period of benefits by 40 weeks. She said the plan would be “problematic” for her fellow Democrats.
President Barack Obama has proposed reducing to 79 weeks the maximum period for unemployment aid.
Before protesters arrived outside the Boehner office, a dozen Capitol Police officers were sent to the hallway outside Boehner’s office and a lieutenant was overhead by reporters instructing them to allow demonstrators to gather and chant as long as they weren’t too loud or disruptive. Boehner staff members were keeping the office doors locked to prevent demonstrators from entering, the officer told her colleagues.
Sergeant Kimberly Schneider, a spokeswoman for the Capitol Police, said there were no arrests.
--Editors: Don Frederick, Robin Meszoly
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