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Senate Moves Forward On Unemployment Insurance Extension

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WASHINGTON (CBSMiami) – Senate Republicans failed to generate the votes to kill a bipartisan bill to extend long-term unemployment insurance by three months. The filibuster by some Senate Republicans to the extension fell by a vote of 60-37 Tuesday morning.

The bill now moves to debate on whether to pass the bill which would cost $6.5 billion to extend the benefits that were lost December 28 by 1.3 million Americans. Another 1.9 million will lose their long-term unemployment insurance in the next six months without a legislative fix.

Senators Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) co-sponsored the bill that would extend the program that was originally expanded by Congress in 2008 as a response to the Great Recession’s massive job losses in the first year.

Six Republican senators crossed party lines to help overcome the filibuster including: Kelly Ayote, Ben Coats, Susan Collins, Dean Heller, Lisa Murkowski, and Rob Portman.

Republicans led by Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) originally argued that the extended unemployment insurance made workers lazy and hurt the economy. After that argument and others didn’t gain traction, Senate Republicans coalesced around the idea that the extended unemployment benefits must be offset or be deficit neutral.

Forcing the unemployment benefits to be deficit neutral would likely mean that economic conditions, namely unemployment, would no longer drive the decisions on benefits, but rather the state of the federal budget.

According to the National Journal, “tight-employment economies translate to tight budgets, which means it becomes infinitely harder for lawmakers to approve additional benefits” even during times of major economic crises.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) sought to pay for the short extension by delaying the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act for a year. The Congressional Budget Office said that could save up to $35 billion, but it would force deep Medicaid spending and delay tax subsidies to help people buy insurance.

The bill, once it passes the Senate, will move to the House where it is likely to falter. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) said the unemployment insurance extension should “not only be paid for, but include something to help put people back to work.”

Major conservative groups like Heritage Action and other groups have come out in opposition to extending unemployment insurance compensation.

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