The unemployment benefits extension legislation meandering its way through Washington (H.R. 3548) faces a crucial test in the Senate today. At 4:30 pm CST, the Senate will hold a 30-minute debate on the bill (broadcast on CSPAN-2), which would extend jobless insurance to the 1...
The unemployment benefits extension legislation meandering its way through Washington (H.R. 3548) faces a crucial test in the Senate today. At 4:30 pm CST, the Senate will hold a 30-minute debate on the bill (broadcast on CSPAN-2), which would extend jobless insurance to the 1.3 million Americans expected to exhaust their benefits by the end of the year. At 5:00 pm CST, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will call a vote on the motion to invoke cloture.
If it survives this procedural hurdle -- which effectively limits debate on the measure -- the full chamber will still have to vote on the final bill. (When that vote will take place is unclear at the moment.) Then that version must be reconciled with the less-generous House proposal and approved one final time.
One thing to look for this afternoon is how many Republicans will break ranks with party leadership and vote for cloture. The caucus elders, who have consistently expressed reservations about how the bill will be funded, now want to insert two amendments into the bill (measures preventing ACORN from receiving federal fundsand implementing reforms to the E-Verify program) that Senate Democrats see as irrelevant and partisan. This morning, Illinois' own Sen. Dick Durbin again railed against the GOP obstructionism:
Today, the New York Times editorial board called on the Senate to take quick action. "[Extending jobless benefits] is the single most effective way to boost consumption -- which, in turn, preserves jobs," they write, "because it creates spending that would otherwise not occur."
We'll update this post once the floor debate begins.
UPDATE (2:45 p.m.): Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias released the following statement today:
"Mark Kirk turned his back on thousands of Illinois workers who lost their jobs during a recession and are struggling to pay their mortgages, put food on the table and provide for their families," said Giannoulias, noting that Kirk has voted against extending unemployment benefits for workers at least eight times.
"Illinois deserves a Senator who will show up to vote and demonstrate a political backbone, not one who will back down from advocating on behalf of Illinois workers and families," he added.
Also, scroll down through the comments to see some more video from the Senate floor today, this time from Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA).
5:45 p.m.: After a quick debate this evening, the Senate voted by a widemargin (87-13) in favor of cloture on H.R. 3548. While one more cloture vote willbe required to bring the final bill to an up-or-down vote, the Senateis now expected to take up the bill in its current form, including theamendments added by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), inthe coming days. Open Congress has listed the 13 lawmakers who voted against the procedural motion, which you can see below:
Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY)
Sen. Christopher Bond (R-MO)
Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY)
Sen. Thomas Coburn (R-OK)
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC)
Sen. Michael Enzi (R-WY)
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK)
Sen. Jefferson Sessions (R-AL)
Sen. David Vitter (R-LA)
Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS)