Senate Republicans have again blocked movement on the bill to extend unemployment insurance.
Senate Democrats failed last night to achieve a three/fifths majority in a motion to limit debate on the bill which would extend certain tax credits and unemployment insurance.
Passage of the cloture bill would have meant that Republicans would not filibuster the vote on the bill itself, which also needs a three/fifths majority, or 60 votes, to pass.
The House has already passed its version of the extender bill.
As of today, July 1, 1.2 million unemployed Americans cease to receive relief from the federal government.
Republicans have blocked similar measures before, including three other times in the month of June. President Obama, in his Saturday radio address, criticized the GOP Senate leadership.
Republican leadership in the Senate won't even allow this legislation to come up for a vote, Obama said. And if this obstruction continues, unemployed Americans will see their benefits stop.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, said Democrats have tried for the last two months to pass the extensions in the Senate.
We have a fundamental obligation to stand with these families so that they can make ends meet and help our economy recover, Reid said. For those who question whether this is an emergency situation, they should talk to the Nevadans who I hear from every day who rely on this assistance to put food on the table and pay the bills while they look for work.
Republicans said that the extensions would further increase the federal deficit. They offered an alternative bill that would pay for the unemployment extension with unused stimulus funds.
The only reason the unemployment extension hasn't passed is because our friends on the other side have refused to pass a bill that doesn't add to the debt, said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY.
The vote was 58 to 38 with 3 abstentions. Two Republican Senators, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, both from Maine, voted with the Democrats. One Democrat, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, voted with Republicans. Reid also cast a nay vote, but for procedural reasons, so that he could re-introduce the measure.
The Democrats could have reached 60 votes if Senator Robert Byrd, D-WV, were still alive, with his vote and Reid's putting them there. But Byrd died on Monday.
Reid said he will re-introduce the measure on July 14, when the Senate returns from recess, and a replacement for Byrd, in all likelihood, will have been named.
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