Senate fails to pass unemployment benefits extension

Brown offered a yearlong alternative that would have used unspent or unobligated federal money. Reed objected to his proposal saying "if you burrow down into those funds, they are from a category of programs that could be spent to help the economy move forward." 

Brown urged lawmakers to sit down and work together on a bill instead while the final hours tick away for those long-term unemployed who have exhausted their 26 weeks of state benefits and who can get up to 99 weeks in states with the highest levels of unemployment. 

"I don't want this to happen," Brown said on the Senate floor. 

"God forbid we actually think ahead," he said. The right way to do this is "working together and coming up with a common solution. It makes no sense to me." 

The time used to work on the food safety bill could've been used on looking for a way to extend unemployment benefits, Brown argued. 

"I'm not sure why it took so long to get to his point while we spent seven days on food safety," he said. "I'm very, very curious to see what's next."

Reed and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) juxtaposed the $56.4 billion extension of jobless benefits with the 10-year, $700 billion cost of extending tax cuts for those making $250,000 or more a year. 

They argued that the unemployment benefits extension isn't a long-term commitment and it should be considered emergency spending because it acts as economic stimulus. 

Reed called the debt incurred by a permanent extension of tax cuts for higher income brackets "a huge structural change" to the budget. 

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) introduced the measure Monday night.

After its expiration today, more than 800,000 people will see their unemployment checks evaporate by the end of next week. That number will increase to 2 million by the end of December. 

Baucus, along with economists and the Congressional Budget Office, have said that with a 9.6 percent unemployment rate and 14 million unemployed, the benefits provide a much-needed "economic stimulus," especially heading into the Christmas holidays. 

A recent Labor Department report shows that for every dollar spent on unemployment insurance, two dollars are reinvested into the economy. 

Regardless of those reports, shorter extensions have struggled to gain enough support in the past, especially from Republicans and some Democrats who argue that the bill should be offset so it doesn't add to the deficit.

Senate Republicans held up a bill for nearly two months during the summer.