Democrats block GOP amendment to UI bill

Republican senators failed to get enough votes Thursday to table Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) pending amendments to the unemployment insurance extension bill.

Reid filled the amendment tree and filed a motion to end debate on a bill that would temporarily extend unemployment insurance. Reid’s procedural move means Republicans won’t get votes on their amendments to the bill.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) requested a vote to table Reid’s amendments in order to call up her own, but the 42-54 vote failed.

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The Senate is considering S. 1845, the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act introduced by Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.). His bill would temporarily extend unemployment benefits for the 1.3 million people who lost them on Dec. 28. A one-year extension would cost roughly $25 billion, and Republicans wanted to ensure that the legislation was paid for with offsets.

Reed came up with a pay-for that would extend the mandatory sequestration cuts for one more year — nearly 10 years done the road — and that would pay for an 11-month extension of benefits for the unemployed. Republicans complained that none of their ideas, such as delaying ObamaCare for one year, were considered or put to a vote.

"We have bent over backwards through Jack Reed to pay for this," Reid said. "The time is now to fish or cut bait."

Ayotte’s amendment would have required people claiming a child tax exemption to provide a Social Security number. She said that would raise $20 billion because of fraudsters abusing the system by claiming to have children that don’t exist. Democrats objected to her amendment, saying it would prevent immigrants from being able to get the Earned Income Tax Credit for having children that are U.S. citizens.

Reid said he amendment went after “America’s children.”

It's unclear whether enough Republicans will support Reed's pay-for. Democrats would need five Republicans to vote with them to end debate on the bill. Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) was the only Republican who voted against Ayotte's motion to table — he is a consponsor of the underlying bill.

On Tuesday, six Republicans joined Democrats in voting to end debate on the motion to proceed to the bill, but of them, Sens. Ayotte, Dan Coats (Ind.) and Rob Portman (Ohio) voiced frustration with Reid for not allowing votes on their amendments.