3-month unemployment extension fails in Senate

SOURCE: reid.senate.gov

A bipartisan bill to extend federal emergency unemployment insurance benefits for 3 months failed in the Senate on Tuesday. The Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act (S. 1845) received 55 votes – 5 votes shy of the 60 needed to overcome a filibuster.

The bill’s co-sponsor, Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada, was the only Republican to vote for the temporary extension, which would have provided an average of $300 per week to help 1.3 million Americans pay their bills while they look for a job.

“To say I’m disappointed is an understatement,” said Sen. Reid (D-Nevada). “Every week of the Republican stalling adds 73,000 more people to the long-term unemployed in America.”

Reid said the number of long-term unemployed Americans affected has risen to 1.4 to 1.5 million since the benefit expired in late December.

During a press conference on Thursday, Reid accused Republicans of using “any excuse there is to deny people the benefits that they should have.”

The Republicans refused Reid’s offer to allow each side to submit 10 amendments in exchange for not filibustering the bill. The Republicans also rejected the Democrats’ proposal to pay for a one-year extension by stretching cuts to Medicare provider reimbursements for another year after 2024.

“This is a filibuster. [The Republicans have] done everything they could to disguise what they were doing,” said Reid.

Senate Democrats said the Republican amendments to pay for the benefits extension were unacceptable.

One amendment proposed to prohibit people who collect disability benefits from also receiving unemployment compensation.

Another amendment would eliminate the child tax credit, affecting more than 1 million kids particularly from low-income families.

In addition, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) proposed to pay for the temporary extension by scrapping the individual coverage mandate of the Affordable Care Act, which would effectively eliminate Obamacare’s guarantee that individuals can’t be denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions.

“What a definition of a modern political party that they think the only way that we can help those who are unemployed is by hurting children, hurting the disabled, or denying to American families across the nation the protection they deserve in their health insurance plans,” said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois).

Senate Democrats are hoping for increased public pressure on the Republicans as they head home for the long weekend.

“I would certainly suggest when they go home and talk to their constituents next week that they do not use the same excuses we have been hearing from them,” said Sen. Patty Murray (D-Washington). “What I do hope is that they are coming face-to-face with these families [who have been cut off from federal unemployment benefits] and that will bring them back here with a changed tone, and they will feel the pressure that Americans are giving us and hear that public outcry and help us pass these unemployment extensions that are such an important lifeline for so many Americans today.”

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