GOP filibuster sinks unemployment bill

June 24, 2010 at 10:51 PM
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WASHINGTON, June 24 (UPI) -- A bill extending unemployment benefits failed Thursday to win the 60 votes needed to bring it to the floor in the U.S. Senate.

Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., joined Republicans for the procedural vote, The New York Times reported. The final tally was 57-41.

Both Democratic and Republican leaders blamed the other party. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he would not make another attempt next week to get the extension to the floor.

"You'll hear a lot of excuses," Reid said at a news conference. "The bottom line is the minority just said no."

Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he would not back tax increases or any bill making the deficit larger. McConnell proposed using $10 billion left over from last year's stimulus bill to fund a one-month extension of unemployment benefits and some other social safety net measures.

"The only thing Republicans have opposed in this debate are job killing taxes and adding to the national debt," McConnell said. "Their commitment to deficit spending trumps their desire to help the unemployed."

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said President Barack Obama "will continue to press Congress to pass this bill and bring relief that's critical to our economic recovery."

"This legislation extends benefits for Americans looking for work and would save the jobs of thousands of teachers, firefighters and police officers by providing relief to states struggling with budget shortfalls," Gibbs said in a statement released by the White House. "And it includes tax cuts for businesses that keep research and development jobs here in the United States."

Gibbs said Republicans "obstructed a common-sense package that would save jobs, extend tax cuts for businesses and provide relief for American families who have suffered through the worst economic downfall since the Great Depression, even after Democrats offered multiple compromises to gain Republican support for the bill."

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