Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said Friday she's confident the Senate will extend unemployment benefits when they return next week.
Stabenow said that she's confident but not completely sure that Democratic leaders will be able to get together the 60 votes necessary to authorize another extension to benefits that expired at the end of March.
"I'm hopeful, I'm pretty confident," Stabenow said during an appearance on a Michigan television affiliate. "I can't say absolutely, but I think we're going to be able to get this done."
Senators left for a two-week holiday recess in late March without being able to strike a deal on a vote for the extension in monthly unemployment benefits. Republicans want the spending in the extenders offset by cuts elsewhere under PAYGO rules, but Democrats contend the spending should be seen as emergency spending, which is not governed by those rules.
"The argument now is that we should change the rules. Instead of doing what we've always done for unemployment, which is count it as emergency spending, like any other disaster, hurricane, flood," Stabenow said.
"If this isn't a disaster, I don't know what is, and they now want to change it," he added. "Not change the way we do other things, but change for unemployment benefits and essentially change the rules for people who are out of work. I don't think that's fair."
Senate Democrats have hammered away at the GOP over the recess for stalling on the extenders, especially after pressuring Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) for blocking a similar vote at the end of February. Democrats have said that 400,000 people have been without unemployment benefits as a result of a lapse in the funding.
Stabenow lamented the fact that it seemed that a 60-vote threshold to break a filibuster now seemed typical in approving such extensions.
"I'm very concerned that every time now it's necessary to bring up an extension we see an effort to filibuster," she said.