Prospects are poor for relief for the 1.4 million-and-counting people who have not only been jobless for six months or more but have lost their unemployment benefits as well. Senate Republicans blocked two bills Tuesday that would have extended the emergency aid, one for 11 months and one for three months, and House Republicans show no interest in bringing the issue to a vote at all.
Republicans continue to try to change the subject from their own filibuster of unemployment aid, claiming essentially that Harry Reid is somehow forcing them to block the bills by refusing to allow them to attach a long series of unrelated or unacceptable amendments to a very simple, straightforward bill extending emergency unemployment insurance as has been done time and time again—and done, when George W. Bush was president, without Republicans holding it hostage to offsetting cuts. Reid is not too concerned that he'll take the blame among voters:
“When people start talking endlessly about process, write op-eds about process and on the other side you have 1.4 million people who are desperate, desperate for some help, what argument wins?” Reid asked reporters Tuesday. “Of course, it’s the one trying to help 1.4 million people.”The fact that Republicans want to distract from this vitally important issue to talk about Senate procedure is an insult and an additional injury to all the people waiting for the Senate to pass an unemployment aid bill. "Not only are we blocking the unemployment insurance you need, we're working to make it part of our longer partisan war against the Senate ever passing anything," is the real message here—and too many reporters are going along with it, writing process stories that gloss quickly over the number of people suffering.
Reid can bring the three-month extension bill back for a vote, but with Republicans still standing in the way and Congress on recess next week, chances of getting it passed anytime soon don't look good.