Unemployment benefits likely to clear Congress on Wednesday

Republicans responded by calling on Obama to take responsibility for his role in the nation's economy. Senate Republicans -- and one Democrat -- have held up the extension of jobless benefits for nearly two months, arguing that the focus should be on reducing the growing debt. 

"Instead of acknowledging that his economic policies haven’t lived up to his administration’s promises, this morning the President blamed everyone but his own White House for the economic morass we are in," Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said in a release today. 

"What the President isn’t telling the American people is that many of us in the Senate are fighting to make sure our children and grandchildren aren’t buried under a mountain of debt. If we are going to extend unemployment benefits then let’s do it without adding to our record debt that is the highest as a percentage of GDP since World War II."

The bill that will be considered by the Senate on Tuesday isn't paid for by cuts in spending or tax increases. Republicans have insisted on paying for the measure while Democrats have said the extensions have been routinely passed as emergency spending. Democrats also have said the benefits created economic stimulus because those receiving them spend them quickly. 

The National Employment Law Project estimated the benefits are worth about $7 billion a month to the economy. 

Democrats will get the vote they need -- the bill has been short the 60th vote since the death of Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) -- when Carte Goodwin, the former chief counsel for West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (D), is sworn in Tuesday afternoon.

Two Republicans -- Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe -- had agreed to support the measure before the July 4 recess but without Byrd, Democrats couldn't muster the final vote needed. 

About 43 percent of unemployed workers had been out of work for six months or more and 29 percent of unemployed workers had been jobless for more than a year, according to a report by the Joint Economic Committee.