Senate Passes Unemployment Benefits Extension

Posted April 15, 2010 at 5:28pm

The Senate on Thursday passed a short-term unemployment benefits extension that will resume unemployment insurance payments to thousands of Americans that lapsed 10 days ago. The vote was 59-38.

The bill, which must still be passed by the House, was produced after weeks of wrangling between Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). Coburn had wanted the Senate to include provisions to pay for the bill.

Passage of the bill had been far from certain for most of Thursday because Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) was away from the Capitol because of a family illness. That forced Reid, one of the chamber’s best vote-counters, to scramble for votes, and aides said the Democratic leader spent much of the day on the phone with Republicans looking for an extra vote to break a GOP filibuster.

In the end, Reid’s reprisal of his role as Whip proved successful, as three Republicans — Sens. George Voinovich (Ohio) and Maine’s Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins — voted for the bill.