Unemployment Benefits Extension Passes First Cloture Vote
To the surprise of some the Senate bill to extend unemployment benefits passed its first Cloture Vote with the support of six Republicans:
The Senate begins an even tougher task after a surprise vote on Tuesday to break a GOP filibuster of legislation extending unemployment benefits.
That is: Finding a way to pay for the measure.
Democrats were able to secure six Republican votes to advance the three-month extension of unemployment benefits, nabbing just the 60 votes that are necessary to move ahead. But now they must work with centrist Republicans to strike a bipartisan accord that would offset the legislation’s $6.5 billion cost, a tall task in a Senate still brimming with partisan divisions.
But it’s not at all clear that the Republicans who sided with Democrats to break the filibuster will vote for final passage. Two of them said Tuesday they would likely oppose it without the offsets they are seeking.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he spoke to White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough on Tuesday about finding spending cuts or new revenue to pay for the bill — McDonough told Reid he’d “run the traps” on it. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has also begun discussing pay-for proposals with Democrats.
Though Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) seemed buoyed by Reid and McDonough’s openness to find a way to fund the bill, Reid warned that there’s no such thing as easy money in this political climate.
“If they come with something that’s serious, I’ll talk to them. But right now everyone should understand, the low-hanging fruit is gone,” Reid said.
Senate Democrats hope to hold a vote on final passage by the end of the week ahead of work on a government spending bill that must pass before Jan. 15.
Forgive me, Senator Reid, but I find it hard to believe that there isn’t room in a nearly $4 trillion budget for cutbacks in spending or tax credits/subsidies to find the relatively paltry amount needed to fund this extension. It’s there. Now, get to work finding it. You too, Republicans.