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Harry Reid Blocks Bill to Extend Unemployment Benefits with Unspent Stimulus Funds

11:39 PM, Jun 30, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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The Washington Post's Lori Montgomery reports:

The Senate failed once again late Wednesday to advance a plan to restore jobless benefits for people out of work more than six months, leaving millions of unemployed workers in limbo until after the July 4 recess.

The measure fell one vote shy of the 60 needed to end a Republican filibuster. Sen. George V. Voinovich (R-Ohio) said he was prepared to provide that vote, but that Democrats had rejected his request to pay for at least half of the $34 billion measure with unspent funds from last year's stimulus package.

"Democrats are more interested in having this issue to demagogue for political gamesmanship than they are in simply passing the benefits extension," Voinovich, who is retiring, said in a statement. "I came to the table with a fair compromise and the ball is in their court."

Mitch McConnell asked for the Senate's consent to pass a two-month extension of unemployment benefits that would be paid for with unspent stimulus funds. And Senate Democrats, led by Harry Reid, objected. They wouldn't even meet Voinovich halfway. Why not? If there's a better explanation than Voinovich's claim that they simply want to have an "issue to demagogue," I haven't seen it. From Hary Reid's press release tonight:

“We will vote on this measure again once there is a replacement named for the late Senator Byrd.  In the meantime, I sincerely hope that Republicans will finally listen to the millions of unemployed Americans who need this assistance to support their families in these tough times.  These Americans and millions more demand that Republicans stop filibustering support for unemployed workers.”

Reid must be hoping that the Nevada papers run with the headline: "Republicans Cut Off Unemployment Benefits." But if his home state press is as even-handed as the Washington Post report, Nevada voters, who face the highest unemployment rate in the nation, may direct their anger toward Reid for refusing to pass a bill that would extend unemployment benefits without adding to the deficit.

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