Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, just announced a schedule for a final vote on extending unemployment benefits. Since April 5, hundreds of thousands of people have not been able to apply for benefits if they exhausted their state benefits or one of the tiers of federal benefits. A final vote should come this afternoon.
The Senate cleared the major hurdle on Monday, but Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, has been offering amendments this week to try to get the costs of the benefits offset elsewhere in the federal budget.
The bill expected to be approved later today would extend funding for federal benefits through May, which means lawmakers need to come up with a longer-term solution or they’ll be here the week before Memorial Day in the same position they’ve already been in twice _ with Republican senators threatening to block action.
UPDATE: The bill passed 59-38 but must go back to the House now. The House could dispatch it quickly to the White House for the president’s signature so those needing to apply for extended benefits shouldn’t have to wait much longer. Coburn and Sen. Jim Inhofe voted against it, as did most Republicans.