By Vicki Needham - 06/24/10 11:25 PM EDT
In the past, any extension of unemployment benefits was considered emergency spending and wasn't paid for. But as the nation's battles escalating record deficits that policy should be changed, he said.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), whose state has the highest level of unemployment at 14 percent, said everything that could be changed on the bill has been done. While possibly more negotiations get under way, Reid intends to bring a small business bill to the floor in the meantime.
Nelson has so far refused to support any of the most recent versions of the tax extenders bill -- the latest would've added about $33 billion to the deficit over 10 years -- arguing that deficit spending will only compound the nation's economic problems.
In May, 17 states recorded double-digit levels of joblessness. In some states, unemployed workers can receive a maximum of 99 weeks of unemployment benefits, based on the level of unemployment, up from the traditional 26 weeks normally offered by states.
So without the extension, the previous one expired June 2, about 1.2 million Americans will exhaust their benefits by month's end, Democrats have estimated using National Employment Law Project numbers.
Senate Democrats seemed dumbfounded after today's vote failed 57-41, blaming Republicans for siding with wealthy investors, oil companies and firms shipping jobs overseas.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow, (D-Mich.), whose state has the second highest rate of unemployment, criticized Republicans for voting against the measure using a deficit-buster argurment.
"We don’t need to be lectured by the people who created the deficits about getting out of the deficit hole," Stabenow said after the vote.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), whose state recorded a 12.3 percent jobless rate in May, said unemployment benefits is a lifeline for those who are trying to pay their bills while they look for work.
"I don't think it's fair, I don't think it's right and we're not going to stand for it," Whitehouse said about Republicans opposing the measure.