Senate Democrats

The GOP Plays Politics With Unemployment Benefits

With the U.S. unemployment rate at 9.8%, all eyes are on Congress to pass a fourteen-week extension of unemployment insurance benefits to assist out-of-work Americans.  Why then has it taken the Senate more than three weeks to come close to passing this legislation? Our Republican colleagues have sought to delay and obstruct this extension for political purposes.

"This goes to a broader question, which is the continual objection and slow-walking of critical legislation through the Senate," said Senator Debbie Stabenow. "This has been a tactic to stop the Senate from getting the people’s business done."

There should be no question about the urgency of an unemployment insurance bill that directly affects American lives and does not impact the federal deficit. Despite these realities, the Republican Caucus has attempted to load the legislation with unrelated amendments, including ACORN and e-Verify. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell aided and abetted these obstructionist tactics last week, saying, "Simply cutting people off and not allowing any amendments is not an acceptable approach. Therefore, I object."

Speaking on the Senate floor this morning, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid addressed the Republican Caucus’ delay tactics, stating, "anybody watching what’s taken place the last three years knows the Republicans have become experts in wasting time, the American taxpayers’ time, the American people’s time, and yesterday was no different. Yesterday Republicans used every trick in the book to slow and stall and ensure we can’t do important work — 7,000 additional people lost their ability to have a check."

It is time for Republicans to stand up for American families.

UPDATED: After three weeks of delay and obstructionist tactics by the GOP, the Senate passed the unemployment extension by 98-0.