GOP says denied amendments halted vote on unemployment benefits bill

Democrats are to blame for the weeks-long delay in extending unemployment benefits, according to charges levied by one Republican senator on Monday.

Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) blamed Democrats and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) for not allowing GOP amendments to the benefits extension as the cause for delay.

"The majority has, for whatever reason, resisted votes on the amendments," Johanns said during a conference call Monday organized by Senate Republicans.

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"In a good long day, we could have brought up all of these amendments and voted on them," the first-term senator added. "This idea that we're all of a sudden going to change this institution into one where you don't get a right to vote on your amendment isn't right."

Republicans have offered a number of amendments to the bill, which Johanns said he supported, most notably including and amendment that would terminate the financial industry bailout program authorized last year at the end of December 2009.

Democrats have argued that Republicans have been "slow-walking" the legislation by attaching irrelevant amendments in a bid to kill the benefits extension.

Johanns asserted that Reid has become comfortable with denying GOP amendments, a practice which the Nebraska Republican said deprived the minority Republicans of a useful tool to check the majority Democrats' power.

"I hope that we can resolve this because it's beginning to feel like we won't have amendments anymore when we have the opportunity," he told reporters. "Because the majority leader would not allow votes on the amendments, it's taken too long already."