In the 60-34 vote, GOP Sens. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Olympia Snowe and Susan CollinsSusan CollinsLeaked ObamaCare bill would defund Planned Parenthood GOP lawmaker at town hall calls on Trump to release his tax returns GOP senator won't vote to defund Planned Parenthood MORE of Maine and George Voinovich of Ohio all voted in favor of the motion to proceed, which sets up another vote in a day or two.
Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidSanders and Schumer are right: Ellison for DNC chair The Hill's 12:30 Report Hopes rise for law to expand access to experimental drugs MORE (D-Nev.) hailed the vote and said that based on his talks
with leading Republicans, "I think we have a way forward" to have the bill
before the Senate starting at 2:15 p.m. Tuesday. A final vote could
happen Tuesday, but is more likely toward the end of the week.
Democrats Tom HarkinTom HarkinGrassley challenger no stranger to defying odds Clinton ally stands between Sanders and chairmanship dream Do candidates care about our health or just how much it costs? MORE of Iowa, Jay RockefellerJay RockefellerObama to preserve torture report in presidential papers Lobbying world Overnight Tech: Senators place holds on FCC commissioner MORE of West Virginia and Robert MenendezRobert MenendezSteve Mnuchin, foreclosure king, now runs your US Treasury Senate Dems move to nix Trump's deportation order Senators to Trump: We support additional Iran sanctions MORE of New Jersey were absent, putting Democrats in a difficult spot to reach the necessary 60-vote threshold.
"There are people who are in desperate need and depend on these unemployment benefits," Snowe said. "I visited a number of career centers in Maine and I talked firsthand with people who had been long-term unemployed or recently unemployed, and you know, they need their benefits and they don't need this added anxiety about whether they're going to get them. We need to streamline programs, and if there's ways to pay for it that would be great. But let's not add to their burdens."
Under Senate rules, 30 hours of debate would have been required after Monday's vote, but Republicans agreed to waive that requirement shortly before the Senate adjourned for the day.
The $9.2 billion bill would extend long-term unemployment benefits along with COBRA healthcare subsidies and an annual boost in payments to doctors who treat Medicare patients. The unemployment benefits would last until May 5; the other changes would end April 30.
The benefits expired during the recent two-week congressional recess, after Sen. Tom CoburnTom CoburnCoburn: Trump's tweets aren't presidential The road ahead for America’s highways Rethinking taxation MORE (R-Okla.) blocked the bill in March because it wasn’t paid for. Democrats said the benefits are emergency spending that does not need to be funded like other expenses, but Republicans say that approach is irresponsible.
The GOP is positioning itself to avoid a repeat of its public-relations defeat a month ago, when Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) took a similar stance against extending unemployment benefits. In the face of growing media coverage, Republicans splintered and Bunning backed down.
This time around, Republicans appear more united. Coburn, GOP Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellThough flawed, complex Medicaid block grants have fighting chance Sanders: 'If you don't have the guts to face your constituents,' you shouldn't be in Congress McConnell: Trump's speech should be 'tweet free' MORE (Ky.) and GOP Whip Jon Kyl (Ariz.) led the charge on Monday, saying the spending is symptomatic of Democrats’ inability to recognize the long-term effects of their budgeting practices.
“When are we going to start recognizing the need to live within our means?” Coburn said in a floor speech Monday. “We’re going to hear that we’ve always done it this way, that we’ve passed three other short-term extensions, and that we called them emergencies so we would not have to pay for them. I would say it is time we not do it the way we’ve always done it, because the way we’ve always done it has gotten us $12.6 trillion in debt.”
Democrats ramped up their promotional efforts preceding Monday’s vote, targeting Republicans as obstructionists. Sen. Debbie StabenowDebbie StabenowA guide to the committees: Senate Trump's pick to lead Medicare won't say if she supports negotiating prices with drug companies Overnight Finance: Fed chief tries to stay above partisan fray | Bill would eliminate consumer agency | Trump signs repeal of SEC rule on foreign payments MORE (D-Mich.), whose state’s 14.6 percent unemployment rate exceeds the 10 percent national average, took aim at the GOP’s argument over the definition of emergency spending.
"It is as much an emergency as anything else in our country," Stabenow said of the unemployment benefits.
— This story was updated at 6:50 p.m.