The Senate returned to session this afternoon with a vote pending on whether to move a bill to extend unemployment benefits for those who have exhausted them. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, held up the bill two weeks ago, with the support of Republican leaders, and he argued today that lawmakers should find a way to pay for the benefits rather than just adding them directly to the deficit.
Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the second-ranking Democrat in the Senate, said Republicans were using unemployment benefits to take a stand on fiscal responsibility and questioned why they didn’t take that same stand on funding wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Medicare prescription drug program and tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.
The vote today, scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Oklahoma time, is a procedural move that requires 60 votes. It will take at least one Republican to break the logjam and move the bill along.
UPDATE: The Senate is voting now and two Republicans have already voted with the Democrats — Sens. Scott Brown of Mass. and Susan Collins of Maine. So it looks like impasse will be broken and the bill will pass.
UPDATE: The Senate broke the impasse and cleared the way for passage of unemployment benefits extension.