By Ramsey Cox
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he expects Republicans to block Democrats' latest attempt to extend unemployment insurance.
“It seems Republicans are poised to block this important legislation one more time despite the fact that we’ve met every one of their demands,” Reid said on the Senate floor Thursday. “I’m beginning to believe there is nothing that will get Republicans to 'yes.' ”
Democrats will need five Republicans to join them to advance the legislation, but it appears they will be short.
Nearly 1.3 million people lost their long-term unemployment benefits at the end of December. Unemployment insurance was designed to help those looking for work in states that can’t afford to pay unemployment benefits for more than six months.
Pension smoothing reduces pension expenditures for companies in the short term, creating more taxable income. It would take four years for this accounting procedure to generate the $6.5 billion needed to cover the three-month UI extension. Some Republicans have described the practice as a budget “gimmick” that risks greater liability in the long run.
The Reed proposal also includes an amendment from Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) that would stop millionaires from collecting unemployment benefits.
Reid said that if Republicans vote against this latest measure it’s because they don’t want to extend unemployment insurance at all.
Reid said that if senators don't vote to advance the unemployment insurance extension he will then look to move bipartisan legislation from the Energy and Natural Resources Committee or the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. He did not mention specific bills though.