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Unemployment Extension Set to Pass After GOP Filibuster Fails

Heller (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Heller (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 10:25 p.m. |  Senate Republicans failed to block an unemployment extension Thursday, with Democrats putting an end to their filibuster and setting up a final vote on Monday. The cloture tally was 61-35.  

Six Republican joined all of the Democrats to beat back the filibuster attempt: Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Susan Collins of Maine, Dean Heller of Nevada, Mark S. Kirk of Illinois, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Rob Portman of Ohio.  

The vote comes after a deal on a vote for a GOP-catchall amendment  to speed ahead toward final passage Thursday instead of next week fell apart. But after beating back the GOP’s third attempt to filibuster the measure, final passage in the Senate at least is now effectively assured, with a mere simple majority required.  

But the bill still faces tough sledding in the House , with Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, slamming the Senate bill as “unworkable.”  

At a press conference after the vote Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., and Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., urged the House to take up the bill despite Boehner’s reservations.  

Heller said he hoped Portman’s backing could help sway Boehner, a friend from Portman’s days in the House.  

“I think with Portman’s support on the legislation, that is good for Ohio, and the speaker being from Ohio, maybe that sends a message there also,” Heller said.  

Heller also noted that he will try to meet with Boehner to discuss the issue with him. Both acknowledged that there is a short time frame for the House to act, given that the five month extension extends benefits retroactively to December and it’s already April.  

“The best result for the 2.3 million and counting Americans [who lost benefits] is timely action on the legislation that we passed or minor modifications that” can pass the Senate quickly, Reed said.  

Senate Republicans had been pressuring Democrats to allow amendment votes on the bill and sought eight times Wednesday to get unanimous consent to attach their proposals to the bill.  

But Democrats have refused, noting they already had 60 votes needed to cut off debate and pass the measure.  

A senior Senate Republican aide ripped Democrats for rejecting the GOP offer of a final vote today in return for a vote on a Republican amendment.  

“They are so afraid of this one amendment that they are willing to blow up their entire schedule,” the aide said.  

Democrats had been hoping to clear the unemployment extension measure this week in order to be able to set up a vote on a pay equity bill on Tuesday, which is recognized as Equal Pay Day by the National Committee on Pay Equity, a coalition including women’s and civil rights organizations.  

But now the earliest the Senate could vote on the issue is Wednesday unless Republicans agree to an earlier vote.  

Among the ideas Republicans wanted to attach to the bill are the Keystone XL Pipeline, a repeal of the medical device tax, and modifying language in the Affordable Care Act that defines full-time employees as those that work 30 hours a week.  

Stay tuned for more details.  

Follow our coverage of the unemployment insurance extension proposals:

Unemployment Extension Vote Not Worrying House Republicans

Boehner Still Cool to Senate Unemployment Extension Bill

Unemployment Extension Fight Pits Portman Against Boehner

Doctors Win, Jobless Lose: The GOP Confronts New Perception Problem

Unemployment Extension Advances Narrowly in Senate

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