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Senators Demand Up Or Down Vote On Unemployment Insurance Extension

In a conference call with reporters today, three Democratic Senators charged Republicans with obstructionism in all aspects of public policy, particularly stopping the Senate from passing a bill that would extend unemployment to millions of Americans, at a time when 7,000 Americans a day are losing their benefits.

Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) vowed to move forward with a motion to proceed on the unemployment bill, tied up with non-germane amendments (about things like ACORN funding and E-Verify which have already been voted on in the Senate in other forms) from Republicans that “amount to a political agenda” in Stabenow’s words, as soon as tomorrow. “The votes are there to pass this bill,” said Shaheen. Stabenow said that the bill could have passed a few weeks ago.

Asked by Mike Lillis of the Washington Independent, who has a writeup on this up, why the Senate cannot just plow forward on this bill, given their 60-vote majority in the Senate, Stabenow answered that “you can only do this one at a time.” She countered that Republicans have slow-walked practically all critical legislation since 2007, forcing cloture votes on ordinary measures to take up floor time and generally obstruct the legislation. Obstructionism in the Senate is not limited to filibusters, but also procedural actions when filibusters can be overcome. The result is a slow crawl that creates anxiety among Democrats and liberals and emboldens Republicans to claim that Democrats are running a “do-nothing” Congress. It’s a neat trick.

Democrats hope for a final vote on this bill by the end of the week.

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David Dayen

David Dayen