Unemployment Extension, The latest effort by Senate Democrats to extend emergency unemployment benefits failed on a procedural vote again on Thursday by a vote of 58 to 40, with 39 Republicans objecting to moving ahead with a vote on the measure.
Sixty votes were needed to begin debate on the bill, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., switched his vote at the last minute for procedural reasons so he can bring up the bill again in the future. Democrats were joined by Republicans Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Dean Heller of Nevada.
After agreeing in early January to open debate on extending the benefits, lawmakers have repeatedly failed to come to an agreement on how to do so. Each of the three proposals Senate Democrats have put forward to renew the benefits have failed to garner enough Republican support. At first, the concern was that there was no way to pay for the benefits. Now, Republicans are seeking an open amendment process, which Reid refuses to give.
After the vote, several Senate Democrats expressed their disappointment with their Republican colleagues.
“One more vote and there would be millions of our fellow citizens today rejoicing at the relief that at least they were going to be able to make it through a few more weeks. But now theyve been pushed into a deeper peril,” said Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J. “It is unacceptable. What is the quality of mercy in this country? What is the substance of our compassion for one another? We are better than this as a country, we stand for more than this as a country.”