Dems hit GOP candidates for votes on unemployment extension (updated)

Republican Reps. Mark Kirk (Ill.) and John Boozman (Ark.) voted against a $34 billion extension of unemployment benefits Thursday, which opened up another round of sparring between the two Senate candidates and their Democratic opponents.

It continues what has already been a theme for Democratic candidates in recent weeks and likely straight through to November.

In a statement, Sen. Blanche Lincoln's (D-Ark.) campaign said Boozman "turned his back on Arkansas' working families," with his "no" vote. "I do not believe we should turn our backs on Arkansas workers who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own and continue to seek employment," Lincoln said in a statement. 

A Boozman spokesman said the congressman has repeatedly expressed a desire to extend benefits without adding to the federal deficit in the process. 

Some GOP lawmakers floated the idea of paying for the extension with unused stimulus funds. 

Democrat Alexi Giannoulias (Ill.) slammed opponent Mark Kirk as "heartless and hypocritical" in a statement. "What Congressman Kirk essentially is saying is, 'I know we steered the ship into an iceberg, but don't worry, we're burning the life rafts," Giannoulias said in a statement. 

In response, Kirk's campaign accused Giannoulias of trying to have it both ways by claiming his proposals are deficit neutral. "Congressman Kirk voted to extend unemployment benefits five times in the last two years," Kirk for Senate spokesperson Kirsten Kukowski said in a statement. “Congressman Kirk has also said he would vote to continue unemployment insurance benefits again if Congress pays for it by cutting other spending." 

Kirk and Giannoulias are locked in a tight race for President Obama's former Senate seat. In Arkansas, recent polls show Lincoln trailing Boozman by as many as 30 points. 

The bill passed the House Thursday by a vote of 272-152, with 31 Republicans in support of the measure. It passed the Senate by a vote of 59-39 on Wednesday.

After Wednesday's Senate vote, the National Republican Senatorial Committee hit a slew of Democratic senators for adding "another $34 billion on top of record $13 trillion federal debt."

In releases targeting Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) among others, the NRSC criticized the measure saying it will be "paid for with borrowed money and which future generations will have to pay back with interest."

--Updated at 4:45 p.m. 

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