PI Original Adam Doster Wednesday October 28th, 2009, 2:22pm

Durbin: GOP's Obstruction Of Unemployment Benefits Extension "Fundamentally Unfair"

Now that the Senate has overcome a procedural hump and voted by a wide margin in favor of cloture on H.R. 3548, an extension of federal unemployment insurance,
Democratic Senators are laying into their Republican counterparts for
the multiple delays they caused over the ...

Now that the Senate has overcome a procedural hump and voted by a wide margin in favor of cloture on H.R. 3548, an extension of federal unemployment insurance, Democratic Senators are laying into their Republican counterparts for the multiple delays they caused over the past few weeks. On the Senate floor today, Sen. Dick Durbin listed off the unemployment rate in the states represented by the 13 lawmakers who voted against the measure last night. "This Republican obstruction," he said, "when it comes to something this basic, is fundamentally unfair." Watch it:

The Washington Independent's Mike Lillis has a succinct primer on where the bill goes from here:

So what does that mean for those whose benefits have expired? Well, Senate rules dictate that, without an agreement, Democratic leaders must wait at least 30 hours after the cloture vote to proceed to stage the roll call vote to proceed — meaning the earliest they can do it is 12:26 a.m. Thursday. Such roll call votes are often scrapped with the consent of both parties — a move that might still happen, but hasn’t happened yet. Indeed, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) took to the chamber floor this morning and threatened to hold that roll call vote, if necessary, at that early hour.

“I hope we can work something out with the Republicans,” Reid said. “But we’re going to have that vote as soon as we can. I’m sorry that we might have to do it in the morning.”

Afterward, if there’s still no agreement, Reid would have to file a cloture motion on the actual bill — meaning, by Senate rules, that the cloture vote couldn’t come earlier than 25 hours after the motion is filed (again, unless an agreement is reached first). Now we’re looking at roughly 1 a.m. Friday morning, at the earliest.

After the cloture vote on the actual bill, then the 30-hour clock starts again, after which time lawmakers could hold their roll call vote on final passage of the bill. Now we’re approaching 8 a.m. Saturday morning.

Once those steps are taken, the House and Senate versions need to be merged. It's unknown at this point whether a compromise measure will be written or the House will just vote on the final Senate bill. So, while progress is gradually being made, it will likely be a matter of weeks -- not days -- before the checks go out in the mail.

To learn more about the issue, you can click the "unemployment" tag below for our full coverage. 

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