Senate vote on jobless aid set for Tuesday, but prospects are iffy

David LightmanTribune News Service

  The Senate plans to vote Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. on whether to consider extending jobless benefits -- and prospects look iffy.

     Republicans appear to be nearly unanimous in opposing the procedural vote, which would allow the Senate to begin formally debating the bill. It would provide three months of emergency benefits, but the $6.5 billion price tag would not be offset.

      That troubles most Republicans. "Unfortunately, this bill is being jammed through, has not been considered in committee and will not be able to be amended on the floor," protested Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.

        He was considered a possible backer, since Tennessee's jobless rate was well above the national average in November.

        Instead, Corker said, "Spending $6.5 billion in three months without trying to find ways to pay for it or improve the underlying policy is irresponsible and takes us in the wrong direction."

        The White House and Senate Democrats pressed hard for passage, as the bill represented a big piece of their agenda aimed at reducing income inequality.

        "Passing this measure is one of the best things we can do for our economy," said Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada. "And it is a cost effective way to immediately address some of the worst consequences of growing income inequality in this nation."

        The vote had been scheduled for Monday evening, but travel delays meant 17 senators were not present for the vote. Sixty votes are needed to end debate. Democrats control 55 seats.


David Lightman
McClatchy Washington Bureau