Senate invokes cloture on unemployment benefits extension

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Today, the Senate broke cloture 60-37 on the extension of long-term unemployment benefits, all but guaranteeing its passage through the Senate and putting the ball in the House Republicans’ court.

The bill, cosponsored by Senators Dean Heller(R-NV) and Jack Reed (D-RI), was in peril as of yesterday, when it seemed to lack the number of Republican votes necessary to meet the 60-vote threshold to break cloture. Senate Majority LeaderHarry Reid (D-NV) postponed the vote, in part because inclement weather held up lawmakers.

Senate Republicans objected to the bill, which will extend unemployment benefits for 1.3 million people at a cost of $6.5 billion, because the senators had not found offsets to pay for it. (The sponsors rebutted that unemployment benefits have historically been considered emergency funding.) The six who ended up voting for its advancement, somewhat surprising Republican leadership, included Heller,Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Dan Coats (R-IN), Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Rob Portman (R-OH).

The bill will now head to the House, where Republicans may refuse to bring it up for a vote unless contains payment provisions. However, polling finds extending the benefits to be widely popular, and a recent Public Policy Polling report projected that a failure to extend the benefits could adversely affect vulnerable House Republicans in the 2014 midterms.

Read it all here.

Mike DeVine/Joe For America

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