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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

GOP Stalls Dems' Unemployment Vote Again, Jobs! Jobs! Jobs!

Democrats Unemployment Vote Hits Snafu

Senate Democrats hit a minor snafu Wednesday afternoon when they failed to kill a Republican procedural motion on a short-term unemployment benefits package.

The vote was 58-40, two votes shy of setting aside a GOP “point of order” against the $9.2 billion bill, leaving the legislation in limbo as Democrats scrambled to schedule a re-vote later Wednesday.

With Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) at home for a funeral and George Voinovich of Ohio the the only Republican to break with his party on the motion, it became clear the Dems would fall just short of 60.

A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he expects to hold a second procedural vote later Wednesday to kill the GOP point of order.

The Republicans' motion—which contends that the unemployment benefits bill violates the Senate's "pay as you go rules"—strips the legislation of its emergency designation, an action that requires the bill to be offset with spending cuts.

Even though the issue should be cleared up in favor of Democrats later Wednesday, it was still a setback because Democrats thought they had the 60 votes to waive the “paygo” rules on the first roll call on this issue.

Minutes before the 12:30 vote, a Democratic aide said he believed the party had enough votes, that the point of order would be waived and that final passage of the legislation would come "in short order.”

The aide believed Voinovich and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) would vote against the point of order. But Democrats miscalculated. Snowe, who had told reporters Tuesday she was still on the fence about how she would vote, voted with Republicans.

The pending short-term package—which includes extensions of emergency flood insurance, COBRA benefits and the Medicare "doc fix"—has become a thorn in the side of the majority party, which has faced filibusters in each of its last two attempts to move it through the Senate.

As a result of this most recent impasse, unemployment benefits expired April 5. The legislation on the floor, however, would cover the gap in coverage and retroactively grant benefits to those who lost them.

Sources: CNN, C-Span, Politico, Youtube

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