Landrieu supports pausing on small biz bill to extend unemployment

Senate Small Business Chairwoman Mary Landrieu (D-La.) on Tuesday told The Hill she supports temporarily moving off her small-business bill to extend unemployment insurance. 

"Table is a strong word, but pausing to get that other work done — we've got to do a lot of different things at one time around here," she said. 

Landrieu also blasted Republican opposition to the extension. 

Not a single Republican senator so far has supported the three proposals offered by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to extend unemployment benefits that expired earlier this month. 

"How that party can stand year after year supporting unpaid wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but they won't support emergencies here at home is really beyond my comprehension," she said, adding, "It [extending unemployment] is an emergency. If 15 million people out of work is not an emergency, I don't know what is." 

The House is slated to vote later Tuesday on another extension to unemployment. The vote will allow the benefits to continue through November. However, the package excludes the $25 pay bump created by the stimulus bill and it is not offset. 

House leaders hope the stand-alone bill will find sufficient support in the Senate and pass from that chamber before the July 4 recess.  

The last three attempts have failed to pass the Senate largely because Republicans there have refused an extension that is not paid for, and therefore adds to the deficit.

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) last week signaled that she would support an extension that is not paid for. But Senate Democratic leaders will still need at least two additional Republicans to vote for the measure if Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) continues to oppose the bill because its cost is not offset. 

A Republican staffers thinks Reid will have a hard time winning over two Republicans beyond Snowe to support the bill.