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Senate moves closer to extending jobless benefits

By Ben Pershing
The Senate moved closer Monday to extending jobless benefits that expired a week ago, clearing a procedural hurdle over the objections of deficit-conscious Republicans.

The chamber voted 60 to 34 to proceed on a measure that would extend unemployment insurance, subsidies for the COBRA health insurance program and federal flood insurance through May 5. Four Republicans -- Sens. Scott Brown (Mass.), Susan Collins (Maine), Olympia Snowe (Maine) and George Voinovich (Ohio) -- joined every Democrat present in voting to move the bill forward, making it likely that the measure will pass in a final tally later this week.

The House approved the same measure in March, so it will go to President Obama's desk if it clears the Senate without being amended.

Because Republicans denied Democrats' push to move the measure quickly in late March, the Senate was unable to approve the extensions before adjourning for the two-week Easter recess. As of April 5, unemployed people who had already exhausted their states' jobless benefits were unable to receive additional benefits under the federal program.

Republicans said in March and reiterated Monday that their opposition to the measure was based on the fact that the legislation's $9 billion cost was not offset, so it will be added to the budget deficit. GOP leaders plan to make their campaign against this week's bill one plank in a larger argument about Democrats' alleged free-spending ways.

"Those who continue to use the taxpayer credit card with reckless abandon threaten not only our chances of a quick recovery and the jobs it would create, but also the nation's long-term fiscal security -- and a safety net that's been built up over the decades precisely for moments like this," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Monday on the Senate floor. "Democrats can no longer hide behind the argument of good intentions when the results threaten our very stability as a nation."

But Democrats made clear that they believed the extensions needed to pass urgently, and didn't need to be offset.

"Blocking unemployment insurance isn't just bad policy or bad political strategy, it is unfair and inhumane," said Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.). "Those blocking this extension say they want the spending offset, but that ignores the fact that unemployment extensions have always been considered as emergency spending. Plus, extending unemployment insurance makes economic sense."

Each side made similar arguments in early March, when Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) blocked the last set of extensions for five days before allowing it to proceed.

The question of whether -- or how -- to pay for additional unemployment benefits is likely to resurface again soon. Both the House and Senate have passed large jobs bills that include longer-term extensions of jobless benefits. The bills are substantially different and will require extensive bicameral negotiations to reconcile, while Republicans and some conservative Democrats in both chambers are likely to object if the measures aren't fully offset.

By Ben Pershing  |  April 12, 2010; 6:12 PM ET
Categories:  Capitol Briefing  
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Comments

It is absolutely absurd that those members of congress, largely republican but also including some of those who call themselves conservative democrats and / or blue dog democrats, would have the audacity to object to extending a lifeline to their own countrymen, yet don’t blink an eye when it comes to spending billions on a war with no end, not to mention nearly every other nation in the world who comes before them with their hands out.

For the republicans, along with those few blue dogs to continue to place their own countrymen under the wheels of a stagnant economy is an injustice. What they should be doing is extending unemployment benefits long term rather than on a month to month basis, and do so as the emergency measure those benefits represent to those being forced to live within the means supplied by, while also eliminating every tax break ever provided to the corporations who participated in the corporate flight of the late 1990’s and 2000 decades, along with providing tax incentives and / or tax breaks to those who return their businesses back where they belong. Here in the U.S.A. For if they don’t, eventually the blue collar working middle-class upon which this nation was built will continue to shrink to the point it completely disappears, and with it the future of this nation as a whole.

Posted by: CD-1 | April 13, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Thank you Maine Senators.... and Scott Brown.

Posted by: Geopolitics101 | April 12, 2010 11:55 PM | Report abuse

How dare the republican party use today's vote on extending unemployment benefits to make a political statement on financial accountability. They are largely responsible for this job economy. They've passed tax cuts, military spending, pork, and BANK BAILOUTS without spending accountability! I believe in spending accountability, but this is the WRONG WAY to make this point. Republicans should better weigh their actions because I am among MANY other suffering Americans who vote and who are paying close attention.

Furthermore, the media has not provided much clarification about a questions that 200,000 Americans who lost their jobs in September have-Are we eligible for a first extension or will we lose out because of congress delay with this vote?

Posted by: j2809 | April 12, 2010 11:15 PM | Report abuse

Since our taxes pay THEIR salaries, I vote to hold their paychecks for two weeks and see how they like THAT!
Posted by: connielovesmusic | April 12, 2010 7:57 PM
=================================
Yup, that'll show them. Withhold their paychecks for two weeks, and then pay it in full at month's end.
And we wonder why there's a $12 trillion deficit?

Posted by: mtpeaks | April 12, 2010 8:34 PM | Report abuse

There are many roads to senate victory this year, but surely democrats are paving one by one road to that victory, while republicans are still trying to figure out how much to pay Sarah Palin to say something good about republicans or actualy something bad about democrats, which was 50% factor they lost presidential race and senate race.

Posted by: BOBSTERII | April 12, 2010 8:13 PM | Report abuse

Since our taxes pay THEIR salaries, I vote to hold their paychecks for two weeks and see how they like THAT!

Posted by: connielovesmusic | April 12, 2010 7:57 PM | Report abuse

Our esteemed republicans didn't seem to have this great concern about our deficit when they were pushing this ungodly Trillion dollar war that they lied us into.
However when it comes to supporting middle class Americans they don't hesitate to say "screw em". I'll say it again, republicans are evil hard-hearted cruel people who will have no place in heaven.
Posted by: sammsammus | April 12, 2010 7:22 PM
===============================
So, Sam, how does your partisan guilt trip apply to those 51% of Americans who don't identify with either party?
Like maybe two-party wrongs don't make a right for most Americans?

Posted by: mtpeaks | April 12, 2010 7:49 PM | Report abuse

Why would anybody have a problem spending additional $40 Billion on helping unemployed people here in USA but has no problem spending $40 Billion killing people in Iraq and Afghanistan, WHY, I JUST CAN NOT UNDERSTAND THAT, and I don't wanna understand. Just do the right thing; and democrats and honest republicans did it. Thanks.

Posted by: BOBSTERII | April 12, 2010 7:43 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm...since Congress passed the pay-go stipulation, they have worked around it by decalring nearly every appropriation as an 'emergency.'
Kind of like the ongoing War of Terror, where the Constitution can be violated because of the war without an end.
Hmmm...when will living within our means become an emergency? Just like the other emergencies, probably after it's too late.

Posted by: mtpeaks | April 12, 2010 7:34 PM | Report abuse

I was just reading Pershing's comments
about the certain doom facing Democrats
this fall. Might be...but I think conventional
wisdom is a bit early on this.

However, Ben used the Dems worry about
Hawaii as an example of their certain failure
in the fall.

I am willing to bet any amount the dems
win in Hawaii. Any amount!!!!!!!!!!!!

And if this is passing as an indicator then
they are off....way off.

Especially with the Republicans outright
offending every group possible except
fat southern white men.

Posted by: printthis | April 12, 2010 7:31 PM | Report abuse

All employees of the Federal Government need to take a 20% pay cut -- like those of us who still have jobs.
Enough is enough. Taxpayers are paying their salaries and benefits.

Posted by: ohioan | April 12, 2010 7:26 PM | Report abuse

Shouldn't that lead paragraph read...
"over the objections of *newly* deficit-conscious Republicans."

After all, the party of "deficits don't matter" didn't give one whit in the past about such things.

Posted by: amacrae1 | April 12, 2010 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Our esteemed republicans didn't seem to have this great concern about our deficit when they were pushing this ungodly Trillion dollar war that they lied us into.
However when it comes to supporting middle class Americans they don't hesitate to say "screw em". I'll say it again, republicans are evil hard-hearted cruel people who will have no place in heaven.

Posted by: sammsammus | April 12, 2010 7:22 PM | Report abuse

"The question of whether -- or how -- to pay for additional unemployment benefits is likely to resurface again soon."

Who cares? Don't they just turn on the printing press for this? Oh, my bad, maybe they are worried because the printing presses are so far behind, they can't have this money printed soon enough?

Posted by: gjconely | April 12, 2010 7:18 PM | Report abuse

"The question of whether -- or how -- to pay for additional unemployment benefits is likely to resurface again soon."


Stop raises for 3 years for all federal employees except military Enlisted and NCO's.

Posted by: newagent99 | April 12, 2010 6:40 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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