Senate Dems to push unemployment extension, eye yearlong fix soon

Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) at the same time said that Democrats are preparing to bring forward a larger, yearlong extension of benefits sometime in the near future.

Schumer said that senators would vote to end debate on an emergency, monthly extension to benefits, including unemployment insurance and COBRA plans, at 5:30 p.m. Monday. The vote would move toward ending debate on a measure to retroactively restore benefits that had lapsed at the end of last month, and fund those benefits through the end of April.

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Schumer and Stabenow hit Republicans for having held up a vote, a snag lawmakers had hit over a dispute over how to pay for the extension.

"Their position ignores the fact that unemployment extensions has always been considered emergency spending," Schumer said Monday during a conference call. "I think that we ought to put the blame where it belongs, with the dilatory actions on the other side of the aisle."

Republicans have demanded that the extensions be paid for by reductions to spending elsewhere, going by the pay-go rules lawmakers enacted earlier this year. Emergency spending is exempted from those rules.

"It is as much an emergency as anything else in our country," Stabenow said, likening unemployment as an emergency to a flood, hurricane or other natural disaster.

At the same time, Schumer said Democrats expected to move forward with a package during this work period that would extend these benefits for a whole year.

"We certainly want to pass the yearlong UI extension. We expect to pass it quite soon. It's with a bunch of other issues," he said. "So it was a more complicated bill than just passing UI."

Schumer also said that Democrats hope to move forward with another jobs bill this work period, one that would provide financing for small-business investment. It would be paid for with unused funds from the Wall Street bailout program from 2008.

Updated at 3:39 p.m.