April 12th, 2010
06:53 PM ET
12 years ago

Jobless benefits extension advances in Senate

Washington (CNN) - Senate Democrats managed to get enough Republican support to take up a proposed extension of unemployment benefits Monday evening, but whether they have the votes to get past further GOP opposition remained uncertain, Democratic aides said.

Republicans, led by fiscal hawk Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, say they don't oppose extending unemployment benefits - they want Democrats to find a way to offset the nearly $10 billion price tag for the one-month extension. Democrats argue that cutting spending to pay for the jobless benefits, which average about $300 a week, would diminish the money's stimulative effect on the still-sagging economy.

"Do we have the presence of mind to do this in a way that doesn't hurt our children?" Coburn asked during a floor speech. 'We're debating whether to take from those who come after us and give to those today."

But four Republicans - Scott Brown of Massachusetts,; Susan Collins and Olympia Snow, of Maine and George Voinovich of Ohio - joined 56 Democrats in voting to bring up the bill. But Democrats are less confident they will get the 60 votes they need to get the bill through the Senate later this week, two Democratic leadership aides told CNN.

Brown, the Senate's newest member, told CNN he wanted to "help move things forward" but wanted Democrats to find a way to pay for the benefits before he decides how to vote on the final bill.

"Make no mistake, while people are hurting, people paying their bills are also hurting. We need to find a way to pay for this," Brown said.

Benefits for about 200,000 of the roughly 15 million unemployed U.S. workers expired April 5. Another 1 million could see their unemployment checks stop at the end of the month unless Congress acts, Democrats said.

"These are not deadbeats. These are not bums," Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said on the Senate floor Monday. "These are people who are out of work, have been out of work a long time and struggled to find a job."

The bill is the first order of business following the congressional recess, and aides predict the debate will dominate Senate action this week, with a final vote coming Thursday or Friday.

Lawmakers left town two weeks ago without approving the extension after Coburn blocked quick passage. It is the second time Congress is moving a short-term extension of benefits because House and Senate Democrats can't agree on how to pay for a larger, longer-term bill.

While Democrats believe the Republicans will appear as obstructionists, Republicans think their argument is actually tapping into voters' frustration that Washington, controlled by Democrats, is out of control on spending.

"Democrats can no longer hide behind the argument of good intentions when the results threaten our very stability as a nation. We must get a handle on the deficit and the debt," said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky. "This is the issue we will focus our attention on in the weeks and months ahead."

But Sen. Dick Durbin, the Democratic whip, accused Republicans of being hypocritical. The GOP supported deficit spending for bank bailouts, war costs and other priorities of the Bush administration, but now are insisting on paying for unemployment benefits, the Illinois senator said.

Updated: 6:53 p.m.

- CNN's Ted Barrett and Dana Bash contributed to this report.

Filed under: Jobs • Senate • unemployment
soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. Walter

    The only Republican who has any right to insist that extending jobless benefits be paid for by cutting elsewhere is one who has NEVER voted for an expenditure that wasn't paid for.

    That certainly isn't Coburn. I wonder if there are any Republicans in the Senate who are without sin in this regard.

    April 12, 2010 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  2. elton goode

    what is wrong with congress 10% unemployment is a world disatser please dont leave familes out in cold extend benifits

    April 12, 2010 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  3. Capt. Snarky

    The Progressives need to learn that money doesn't grow on trees. You passed Paygo, now follow the law, for cripes sakes! If you want to spend money, you need to cut somewhere else. It's called living in your budget!

    April 12, 2010 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  4. Biased

    So democrats pass a law – "Paygo" and then decide they will ignore it ever since its passage. Once again it is another " do as I say not as I do" moment where democratic hypocrisy rears its ugly head once again.

    April 12, 2010 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  5. ThinkAgain

    "fiscal hawk Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma" ... Excuse me?!? Didn't this guy vote for all of GW Bush's irresponsible tax cuts for the wealthy during wartime which took the Clinton surplus and turned it into a deficit (from $5 trillion surplus to $10 trillion deficit)?

    Didn't he vote for de-regulating the financial industry, which lead to the global financial collapse, which lead to the bailouts, which added to the deficit?

    The only time Coburn is a "fiscal hawk" is when the government tries to spend money that will help the Middle Class. When it's corporate welfare, he's all for it.

    Quit listening to Fox, CNN, and tell the truth about these hypocrites!

    April 12, 2010 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  6. aby

    nice fron the democrat they allway try hard to help the unemploy people..

    April 12, 2010 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |

    For 8 years the republicans didn't pay for any of the programs they passed, now just because the democrats want to extend the unemployment insurance benefits, they are blocking it. Keep in mind that this is not welfare, it's an insurance fund that is paid into, not a giveaway as the GOP claims. This is clearly just politics with the American people as pawns, but the GOP has never cared about the average worker, so why would they start now. Maybe they should consider that 75% of their Tea Baggers are among the unemployed, that might change their minds.

    April 12, 2010 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |

    HURRY UP PASS IT I dont want to have to go back to work for the union
    i am doing just fine on unemployment and $10.00 an hour under the table so im still clearing $735. a week so hurry up i dont want to miss a beat

    April 12, 2010 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  9. David

    Maybe it's time for the GOP to come up with some cuts of their own. They claim to be against spending but NEVER identify what will be cut. Make the GOP identify what they think needs to be cut and they can take some responsibility for it. Oh wait, they never take responsibility for anything.

    April 12, 2010 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  10. Four and The Door

    Democrats argue that cutting spending to pay for the jobless benefits, which average about $300 a week, would diminish the money's stimulative effect on the still-sagging economy.
    ...and this is why they need to be replaced in November. The American taxpayer has just been given a $1 trillion lesson that government spending does not stimulate the economy and these politicians continue to cling to that disproven theory. Of course, it makes their job easier to spend and spend and not worry about where the money is coming from, but their job is to manage the Federal budget, not to try and push our debt up to their new limit!

    April 12, 2010 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  11. conniesz

    Offset the $10 billion by withdrawing from Iraq!

    April 12, 2010 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  12. Keith in Austin

    Spend spend spend!

    What ever happened to the American way of life? Remember the song on the old tv show All in the Family? "Those were the days when there was no welfare state and everybody carried their weight"

    I wish unemployment checks were being received by those trying every day to find work and not the masses of parasites too lazy to do likewise!

    April 12, 2010 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  13. WAW

    "Democrats can no longer hide behind the argument of good intentions when the results threaten our very stability as a nation. We must get a handle on the deficit and the debt," said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky. "This is the issue we will focus our attention on in the weeks and months ahead."

    Alright Mitchie get off you butt and come up with suggestions of what to cut. How about the Republican members of Congress reduce their pay equal to what these folks will be receiving on unemployment. Since you guys are totally ineffective in the job of serving the American people. Maybe your Wall Street high rollers will make up the difference for you, but you are already on their payroll.

    April 12, 2010 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  14. Dan

    The GOP bailed out banks and big corporations, but refused the unemployed. They are pro-life, but it's OK to them when they see you are dying on the streets. Vote them out in Nov

    April 12, 2010 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  15. A True Centrist

    When did this happen...people in Congress who don't just vote along party lines? This is a truly amazing moment.

    Scott Brown...still proving himself to be a quick game changer in the US Senate. He is the breath of fresh air that stink hole of a place needed.

    April 12, 2010 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  16. www.usdebtclock.com

    If Brown votes for unemployment welfare checks to continue he is the biggest hypocrite in America and a traitor to the voters who elected him. Brown should explain why he will not vote for unemployment welfare even if it is "paid for". This is a big lie because no program is paid for until we eliminate the 12.8 trillion dollar national debt.

    April 12, 2010 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  17. waiting

    After 8 years of reckless spending under the Bush Administration,
    why suddenly are the Republicans worried about our children?
    Could it be Politics?
    There is plenty of money in America, it is just in the hands of our
    legal criminals,bankers,insurance industry and wall street.
    29% interest on a credit card !!! Bring back the gangsters,oh they are
    in government! Republicans!

    April 12, 2010 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  18. Wendy

    If the Repubs block this, I hope the voters will put them all on the unemployment list when they're up for re-election. They back $$$ for the fat-cat bankers in the bailouts, but not for the average Joe and Jane Sixpack who are out of work. Marx may yet be proven correct.

    April 12, 2010 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  19. T'SAH from Virginia

    Here's the basis of the problem, the Republicans "don't oppose extending unemployment benefits – they want Democrats to find a way to offset the nearly $10 billion price tag..."

    Why can't the REPUBLICAN'Ts come up with a way on how the cost can be offset??? If President BUSH was in office, they will DO IT and not worry about the offset of the cost!!

    Again, this is why NOTHING gets done in the WH because the "Party of NO that will say YES to NOTHING" refuses to cooperate!!

    April 12, 2010 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  20. Pragmatic

    ... and the republicans want to cut ???? They didn't say?? Oh, yes: money for troops in Iran & Afghanistan: ya think that will pass?

    What are the republicans doing to show some leadership on job creation? Nothing? So no jobs, no more unemployment benefits, repeal the health care bill and just let the bodies of Americans pile up in the street?

    No solutions: just the party of "no" and "no ideas!"

    April 12, 2010 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  21. bready

    I have run out of tier 3 and I have not found a job. I live in Virginia and we only have but 3 tiers. But congress are not adding anymore weeks. I ran out of tier 3 in January 2010.

    April 12, 2010 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  22. Papasan in Az

    If Washington as putting $$$ into Wall Street this would be a done deal in seconds...

    P.S. DOW closed over 11,000 today, where is the bail out for Main Street!

    April 12, 2010 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  23. Sniffit

    Q: How do you know what the GOPers are doing wrong?

    A: Just look at what they are blaming the Dems of doing.

    Mirror image accusations. For example, GOP riles crazies and threats of violence ensue? Claim someone shot out the indow of your Congressoinal office when it was really just a satellite office, happened at like 1 or 2 a.m., the trajectory of th ebullet meant the shooter was either wearing the baloonboy balloon and shooting from above or such a superb marksman he could aim a bullet's parabola from the ground while firing straight up, and IT WASN'T EVEN A WINDOW TO THE OFFICE SPACE YOU WERE RENTING, BUT A NEARBY WINDOW IN THE SAME BUILDING. See? Must be those crazy Dems riling up all those crazy leftists to go around shooting people...they do so love guns you kow.

    April 12, 2010 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  24. TCarter

    I think the Republicans are right we should pay as we go, even when it comes to unemployment. So here's my suggestion- Pay for it by shutting down the Federal Government until it's paid for. They got us in this mess let them feel the pain of unemployment for a while!!

    April 12, 2010 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  25. Mr Joshua

    I am all for extending unemployment benefits.

    It should be paid for though, The Republicans are right. This Administration is spending WAY too much money to the point of being irresponsible.

    They can fine 10 Billion easily. It has to start somewhere.

    And before people can say "What about Bush", I hated the spending under his administration as well.

    Spending is getting out of hand.

    April 12, 2010 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
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