Senate GOP Stands Firm Against Unemployment Extension

Friday, 07 Feb 2014 06:43 PM

By John Gizzi

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Although the issue of extending unemployment insurance came within one vote of breaking a filibuster on Thursday, most Republican senators say they would stand firmly against the unemployment extension bill backed by the Obama White House.

"We can get America back to work and our economy booming again, but this is not achieved by Washington turning a temporary federal benefit into another welfare program," Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, an outspoken opponent of the extension, told reporters Thursday.

Urgent: Do You Approve Or Disapprove of President Obama's Job Performance? Vote Now in Urgent Poll

Inhofe also pointed out that if S.1845 became law, it would be extend temporary long-term benefits for the 11th time since 2008.

In the latest in a string of proposals to break the Republican filibuster against the three-month, retroactive extension, the Senate voted 59-to-40, coming within one vote of reaching the "magic 60" needed to bring the measure to a vote.

But it was nonetheless one vote shy of what was needed and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, then switched his vote and was thus allowed under Senate rules to bring up the proposal again in the future.

Several Democratic supporters of the unemployment extension voiced confidence to Newsmax that they will eventually prove successful.

Rep. Rob Andrews, a New Jersey Democrat, told Newsmax Friday morning, "Four Republicans have already voted for cloture [ending the filibuster], so it looks pretty good that Sen. Reid will get just one more for the 60th vote."

The four Republicans who broke party ranks to vote for cloture were Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, Dean Heller of Nevada, and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire. With all four having histories of breaking ranks with their party leadership, the obvious question is who is left on the Republican side to be the fifth senator to bolt.

The White House sounds prepared to make the Republican-led thwarting of the $6.5 billion compensation package an issue in the mid-term elections.

"We cannot allow one vote to stand in the way of supporting these Americans as they struggle to find work," White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement. "Both sides of the aisle have worked together to prevent this kind of hardship in the past, and neglecting to do so now is unacceptable — especially given the high long-term unemployment rate."

But Republicans viewed the issue in a completely different way.

Inhofe gave reporters a preview of his counterattack on unemployment extension should the measure reach the Senate floor, citing three amendments he offered in January and none of which were allowed a vote.

The amendments he will seek to attach to the bill are:

• Amendment 2605 gives states authority to unlock restrictions on developing federal lands within their borders.

• Amendment 2615, to enforce a section of the Clean Air Act, which requires the Environmental Protection Agency to conduct a study on how its regulations are affecting employment across the economy.

• Amendment 2640, to repeal a section of the Murray-Ryan bipartisan budget act that subtracts a full percentage point each year from the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for current and future military retirees under 62 and who retire at the 20-year point.

"It's time Washington debates solutions that will help us to see the full potential of our economy, and that starts with enforcing promised transparency and getting big government out of the way," said Inhofe.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

Urgent: Do You Approve Or Disapprove of President Obama's Job Performance? Vote Now in Urgent Poll


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