|Published:||Jul 01, 2010 11:56 AM EDT|
|Updated:||Jul 01, 2010 8:57 AM EDT|
WASHINGTON (AP) - More than 1.3 million laid-off workers won't
get their unemployment benefits reinstated before Congress goes on
a weeklong vacation for Independence Day.
An additional 200,000 people who have been without a job for at
least six months stand to lose their benefits each week, unless
For the third time in as many weeks, Republicans in the Senate
successfully filibustered a bill Wednesday night to continue
providing unemployment checks to people who been laid off for long
stretches. The House is slated to vote on a similar measure
Thursday, though the Senate's action renders the vote a futile
gesture as Congress prepares to depart Washington for its holiday
A little more than 1.3 million people have already lost benefits
since the last extension ran out at the end of May.
"It is beyond disappointing that Republicans continue to stand
almost lockstep against assistance for out-of-work Americans,"
said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
The measure, however, stands a better chance of passing after a
replacement is seated for Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., who died
Monday. The measure fell two votes short of the 60 needed to
advance Wednesday night, but only because Reid, a supporter of the
bill, voted "nay" to take a procedural step that would allow for
"We will vote on this measure again once there is a replacement
named for the late Sen. Byrd," Reid said.
Byrd's successor will be named by West Virginia Gov. Joe
Manchin, a Democrat.
Unable to deliver more stimulus spending for President Barack
Obama, Democrats in Congress had hoped to at least restore the
jobless benefits. Obama has urged lawmakers to spend about $50
billion to help states pay for Medicaid programs and to avoid
teacher layoffs, but Democrats in Congress have been unable to come
up with the votes.
Many Democrats see state aid and unemployment benefits as
insurance against the economy sliding back into recession. However,
many Republicans and some Democrats worry about adding to the
growing national debt.
Some Republicans offered to support the unemployment bill if it
was paid for with unspent money from last year's massive economic
recovery package. Democrats rejected the offer, saying the money
was needed for jobs programs.
"The only reason the unemployment extension hasn't passed is
because Democrats simply refuse to pass a bill that doesn't add to
the debt," said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of
Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, said, "My concern is that the
Democrats are more interested in having this issue to demagogue for
political gamesmanship than they are in simply passing the benefits
The unemployment bill would have provided up to a total of 99
weekly unemployment checks averaging $335 to people whose 26 weeks
of state-paid benefits have run out. The benefits would be
available through the end of November, at a cost of $33.9 billion.
The money would be borrowed, adding to the budget deficit.