Republican partisan politics won—and working families lost—again last night when Senate Republicans for the fourth time this year blocked a bill that would revive the extended unemployment insurance (UI) benefits program that is the last lifeline for millions of jobless workers.
The 57-41 vote (with Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson from Nebraska joining all Republicans) fell three votes short of the 60 needed to end the filibuster against the bill. The bill also included aid for states facing huge budget shortfalls to keep 900,000 people on the job.
The extended UI program expired May 31 after the Senate left town for the Memorial Day recess without acting on a House-passed jobs bill that would have kept the long-term unemployment benefits program alive. Since then, 1.2 million jobless workers have lost their benefits.
The Republican blockade means about 250,000 unemployed workers a week lose their benefits, which averages around $300 a week, while Republican lawmakers take in a nifty $3,346.16 a week of taxpayers’ money.
Maybe if they spent a few months out of work in an economy where the unemployment rate is near 10 percent, at least 15 million people are out of work and 6.8 million people have been out of work for 27 weeks or more, they wouldn’t be so cavalier in calling for “tough love” for the unemployed and telling them they’re just not looking hard for work.
This is how you make a recession worse.