Senate plans vote no later than Jan. 7 on jobless benefits

U.S. Capitol Dome
U.S. Capitol Dome
Tish Wells / McClatchy

McClatchy Washington Bureau

The Senate is expected to vote on extending emergency jobless benefits immediately after it returns in January.

Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, vowed a vote Jan. 6 or 7 on a plan to extend the aid, which is now due to expire Dec. 28, for three months.

He also blasted Republicans for resisting a bid to vote this month, saying it explains why Congress is so unpopular.

"Congress is finishing this year less popular than a cockroach," Reid said, "and this kind of mindless knee-jerk obstruction from Republicans is exactly why."

Many Republicans say they're willing to look at a proposal, and many want to make sure it's offset by other spending cuts.

Reid discussed his plans at a news conference

"For far too many Americans...the headlines about positive economic news doesn't match the reality of their lives," he said. "Even as the economy creates jobs, too many Americans find themselves on the sidelines, watching as the rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and the middle class is getting squeezed and squeezed."

It's uncertain if the House of Representatives will go along.

Reid complained, "We've come to the floor. We've had other various people ask unanimous consent to be able to move to it. The answer is no. They blocked us from scheduling a vote before the end of this week. And as I've indicated before, if necessary, I'm going to file cloture on our way out of here, and it'll be the first vote we have when we get back."

Ideally, Reid said, the Senate could vote before it leaves for the year, probably late this week or early next week.

"If not," he said, "We're going to vote no later than January 6th or 7th. This bill is the right thing to do for hardworking Americans who are looking for a job. Long-term unemployment rate is twice as high now as it was the last time emergency unemployment benefits were allowed to expire."


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