April 12th, 2010
05:43 PM ET
12 years ago

Senate renews fight over unemployment benefits

Washington (CNN) – Senate Democrats expect enough Republicans will vote with them on a procedural vote Monday for the Senate to take up an extension of unemployment benefits, two Democratic leadership aides told CNN. But the aides said they were less confident that they will have the 60 votes needed to pass the bill later this week.

Republicans, led by fiscal hawk Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, are not opposed to be the unemployment aid, but are philosophically against adding to the nation's soaring debt. Coburn and other likeminded lawmakers want Democrats to offset the nearly $10 billion price tag for the one month extension.

But Democrats have steadfastly refused, arguing that offsets would diminish the simulative affect of the spending on the sagging economy.

Of the 15 million people unemployed right now, about 200,000 saw their benefits expire on April 5th, and 1 million could see their benefits cut off by the end of the month if Congress doesn't act, warned Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois.

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

The bill is the first order of business following the congressional recess. Lawmakers left town two weeks ago without approving the extension after Coburn blocked its 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.

Aides predict the debate will dominate Senate action this week, with a final vote coming Thursday or Friday.

While Democrats believe that GOP senators 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 Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky. "This is the issue we will focus our attention on in the weeks and months ahead."

Durbin accused Republicans of being hypocritical, since they approved deficit spending for bank bailouts, war costs, and other priorities of the Bush administration but now are insisting on paying for unemployment benefits.

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

Filed under: Senate • unemployment
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Sarah the baby seal basher

    Coburn didnt mind borrowing a few trillion for wars though.

    April 12, 2010 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  2. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    The way I see it here's a chance for the wealthy GOP to do something for the people they screwed: foot the bill. You guys brag every other day about how much money you're raking in from donors. Stop talking Christian and DO something Christian for a change: FOOT THE BILL!!

    April 12, 2010 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  3. Most Republicans - Wrong about everything, Wrong for America (and GW Bush was the worst President ever)

    Same old Republicans. Willing to spend billions to help Iraq, but not a dime to help Americans.

    April 12, 2010 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  4. valwayne

    Why won't the democrats shift $10 billion from wasteful corrupt spending to pay these UNEMPLOYMENT benefits? The nation certainly doesn't need anymore debt. Would they have to give up some of their corrupt earmarks to actually pay for the benefits instead of just borrowing or printing the money?

    April 12, 2010 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  5. Ravi

    OMG Democrats! Come to your senses! We do NOT have the money, and that means no more spending increases. Yes, the Almighty Government has to follow the rules too, not just us peasants and serfs. If you want to spend more on unemployment, you MUST cut elsewhere. No excuses.

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

    When It Comes To Tax Cuts For The Rich, Decrying War, Misrepresenting The Truth And Various Other Talking Points. Republicans Are All Chips In!

    April 12, 2010 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  7. melissa

    I am unemployed. I have worked for thirty years, my office closed. I have applied for work to about 150 different companies without being hired. I have a college education. I ran out of benefits march 27th. I do not know if I will eat, have electricity, water, or gas to go to an interview if I should get so lucky to have another one, or if I will lose my house. We need help just like the banks got, we do buy, and we do stimulate the economy, Republicans need to be channeling their energy in finding us jobs and helping to create them, instead of worrying about Confederate Day. Please help us!!!

    April 12, 2010 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  8. A Good citizen

    Does the party of NO's present????

    April 12, 2010 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  9. Eric

    So true: Repubs condone bank bailouts and no-WMDs' war costs but oppose extending unemployment benefits for the workers. Who is the elite they so often criticize? They feel they are.

    April 12, 2010 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  10. Harry in Texas

    What about offsetting the cost of unnecessary wars...where are they then?

    April 12, 2010 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  11. Cali girl

    Will unemployment become the next welfare?
    I know tons of people on unemployment, who truly can not find work.
    And I feel for them. What are we going to do here?

    April 12, 2010 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  12. Greg

    Tom Coburn:

    Money for a war we were lied into...check

    Money for tax cuts for the rich...check

    Money for the lower and middle class to put food the table because of an unemployment disaster he helped create. Nope.

    Calling it courage to hold these benefits up while a single mother of two children go hungry tonight...check.

    Numbers show that these are the people who win back the House. Get use to more of shafting the middle and lower class.

    April 12, 2010 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  13. Centerleft

    Unemployment Benefits is Unemployment Insurance. We pay into the funds to use in hardship and emergency. The Republicans are obstructionist. Vote no, for the party of No.

    April 12, 2010 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  14. Mike in TX

    What happened to pay as you go?

    April 12, 2010 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  15. A keen observer

    Does anyone remember Coburn complaining about republican deficit spending? I didn't hear any complaints from him about Bush's spending.

    SITUATIONAL conservatism anyone?

    April 12, 2010 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  16. Karen

    You should have gotten a handle on it when Bush kept giving the rich tax breaks. Everybody on unemployment gets less than $400 a week. Take some of congress' benefits and help the real people who got absolutely nothing during Bush's 8 years.

    April 12, 2010 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  17. ms.b

    without benefits, crime will increase 100 percent what parent
    will allow their children to be with out food and shelter. with the
    amount of a benefit check it only covers the essentials. we need to pray that the senate will pass the extension and show a little empathy
    they may be wearing the unemployed shoes one day.

    April 12, 2010 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  18. John

    Fight? The republicans don't care about the middle class unemployed. Heck, they constructed the policies that put the middle class into bankruptcy.

    April 12, 2010 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |