Democratic Sens. Patty Murray (Wash.), Barbara Boxer (Calif.) and Jeff Merkley (Ore.) urged their GOP colleagues to accept a bill that would temporarily extend unemployment insurance (UI).
Republicans have complained that the $6 billion three-month extension isn’t offset by spending cuts.
“Renewing the benefits is simply the right thing to do,” Murray said on the Senate floor Tuesday. “It’s the most effective way to build economic recovery that lasts.”
Earlier Tuesday, six Republicans voted with Democrats to end debate on a motion to proceed to the bill. The Senate will likely spend the rest of the week debating the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act and whether to add amendments that would offset the cost.
Murray said the bipartisan vote was a "glimmer of hope" and challenged the House to take up the legislation, but Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has said he won't bring the bill to the floor unless there are offsets and job creation provisions.
Boxer said she’d happily vote for an offset that was a tax increase on billionaires, but couldn’t support further spending cuts.
“Let’s extend this for a three-month period,” Boxer said. “[And] do it without offsets because when you offset you cut something else and constrict the economy.”
Merkley said the bill was a job creating measure because economists have estimated that if long-term unemployment insurance is allowed to expire the economy will lose more than 200,000 jobs.