Another attempt to reinstall unemployment benefits for those who have been jobless over a long-term period has been thwarted by Senate Republicans.
By a 58-40 vote, the chamber fell one vote shy of the 60 needed to end debate on a plan to extend long-term unemployment benefits by for three months. Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) changed his vote at the last minute in order to keep open the possibility of bringing the bill back up for discussion sometime down the line.
"We’re one Republican vote away from restoring benefits to 1.7 million Americans,” said Reid. “There is one Republican vote standing in the way of a lifeline to these 1.7 million people.”
Four Senate Republicans, U.S. Sens. Dean Heller (Nev.), Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), voted alongside Democrats in favor of ending the debate.
“I’m beginning to believe there is nothing that will get Republicans to yes,” Reid said. “It’s a ‘no’ vote because they don’t want to extend unemployment insurance.”
With the midterm elections fast approaching, Democrats say they plan on reminding voters that the GOP blocked the passage of the unemployment extension bill. Meanwhile, the Obama administration called the bill's failure "unacceptable."
"We cannot allow one vote to stand in the way of supporting these Americans as they struggle to find work," said White House press secretary Jay Carney in a statement. "Both sides of the aisle have worked together to prevent this kind of hardship in the past, and neglecting to do so now is unacceptable — especially given the high long-term unemployment rate."
Last month, an attempt to pass a three-month extension to unemployment benefits failed because Republicans demanded the $6.5 billion price tag be neutralized elsewhere in the budget.