Senate GOP block help for jobless

Florida Senator's Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio see the unemplotment issue differently

Florida Senator’s Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio see the unemplotment issue differently

Breaking News from POLITICO: The Senate blocked two separate proposals to revive emergency unemployment benefits that expired in December, placing the prospects of reviving jobless aid before next week’s recess in serious jeopardy.

The chamber voted 52-48 to reject a bill that would have extended benefits through November and pay for it by extending the sequester’s mandatory spending cuts into 2024. A different measure to extend the aid for three months — without a pay-for — was defeated 55-45. Florida Democratic Senator Bill Nelson voted for extending the rights while Senator Marco Rubio voted against the measure.

Both measures needed 60 votes to advance.

Senate leaders spent much of Tuesday haggling over procedural questions.

In response to Republican requests that they be allowed votes on their amendments to the bill, Democrats agreed to consider five Democratic and five Republican amendments at a 60-vote threshold, with a catch: That the GOP would consent to a simple majority vote on the underlying bill, which would extend emergency benefits through November.

Republicans swiftly rejected the offer from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who said Republicans were trying to “have their cake and eat it too” by requiring 60 votes on the underlying legislation while also demanding consideration of their amendments.

“Are Republicans filibustering unemployment insurance benefits, or are they not?” Reid said on the Senate floor.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Democratic proposal was “fundamentally unfair” and not in good faith.

“I hope you all are beginning to get the picture here, of who’s responsible for dysfunction in the Senate,” McConnell told reporters, deriding a “ridiculous offer that we couldn’t possibly accept” from Reid. “This is utterly absurd.”

Separate of the haggling over amendments, several centrist Republicans and Democratic lawmakers are talking about finding an underlying bill that both parties could support. But even those negotiations are falling short. MORE…

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