Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
March 31, 2015

Jobless Benefits Put on Ice in the Senate

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

It’s back to the drawing board for extended jobless benefits.

Senators turned back a move by Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to limit debate on a three-month extension of the unemployment insurance benefits after the two parties traded barbs about the amendment process proposed by Reid. The Senate voted largely along party lines, 55-45, on a debate-limiting motion, short of the 60 votes needed to advance the bill.

The result is that, for now, the unemployment benefits extension will be likely to fall off the table as the Senate needs to turn its attention to the omnibus appropriations measure to fund government departments and agencies through the end of the fiscal year.

Reid’s proposal to vote on a series of amendments hit a snag when Republicans said it simply was not something they could agree to, with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., contending Reid was trying to stack the deck.

“It is pretty clear that the majority leader is not interested in having an open amendment process. and of course the consent that’s just been offered requires that all of the Republican amendments be at a 60-vote threshold and that the final passage be at 51. In other words, guaranteed to fix the result in such a way that doesn’t give the minority a fair chance,” McConnell said. “I mean, who is to say a number of our amendments might be appealing to members on the Democratic side. That’s probably why the majority leader wants it to be at 60: because he’s afraid they may pass.”

Senators in both parties filed amendments to the unemployment extension measure.

Reid wanted to ensure that a substitute version of the extended benefits could ultimately pass with a simple majority vote, rather than with a 60-vote threshold vote where the outcome would be more dubious.

“It’s a one-sided deal,” Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., told reporters before the floor exchange about what the Republicans want to see. “Three of the five people who wanted amendments said they wouldn’t vote for cloture.”

“It’s pretty obvious that if they are still going to filibuster bills … They said the reason they blocked bills is because they don’t get amendments. Now, we’re giving them amendments, and they’re still blocking the bills,” Schumer said.

  • OriginalPechanga

    Harry Reid really doesn’t care about the unemployed … just as he wanted a government shutdown.

  • MrSmith

    IOW Harry couldn’t get 51 of his Members to oppose Ayotte’s amendment.
    Astonishing, astounding even.
    Wow! WHas something happened to him?

  • MoMo

    The story here should read: “Democrats favor Illegal Immigrants over Unemployed Citizens!”

  • Santiago Alemedia

    Why not allow a few amendments to be heard? One man should not be blocking all this legislation.

    And if the Democrats are so concerned about unemployed American workers, then why are they so eager to pass a Comprehensive Amnesty bill that will legalize 11 million new job seekers (illegal aliens who are here) in our weak economy? Not only will all those illegal aliens, be applying for jobs, but the Bill also allows companies to import hundreds of thousands of new workers EVERY MONTH.

    Where is the humanity and compassion in that? Can’t decide whether to help legal US workers or illegal aliens already here? Then you need to go! This is one of those situations where you can’t have it both ways.

  • ExVariable

    Certainly, the simple freedom to vote one’s self into servitude, thus giving up liberty, is not liberty at all.

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