Earlier today, Harry Reid tweeted:
After Senators go home to hear from constituents next week, we’ll vote again to #RenewUI
I’m told it’s very likely that Dems will hold another vote on the Reed-Heller bill to extend the unemployment benefits program for three months. This measure, which is not paid for, was the one that already got a surprise 60 votes to proceed to the bill; the next vote would be to end debate and move to a final up or down vote.
The question would then be whether the same six GOP Senators who supported it last time would do so again. They probably won’t, obviously, since it isn’t paid for. And they can always trot out their objections over amendments. Dem aides say they are “open” to another round of discussions over votes over amendments, provided Republicans agree to move the bill to a final vote. Probably not gonna happen.
But for what it’s worth, Republicans may have to vote again to sink UI, and Dems are hoping that during the intervening recess, GOP lawmakers catch an earful at home. Liberal groups may gear up again to mount some pressure. Organizing for Action is likely to be active. And Americans United for Change, which ran UI ads in December, is set to coordinate constituent telephone calls into GOP offices, particularly those of GOP senators Rob Portman, Dan Coats, Lisa Murkowski, Kelly Ayotte, and Susan Collins, who voted for the bill the first time.
Democratic Senators, particularly in states where the other Senator is a Republican, will be encouraged to hold events and/or speak out about the issue.
One interesting wrinkle worth noting: Dems point out that lawmakers have not been home since the full impact of the expiration of UI hit Americans. The Christmas recess ended just as final checks were being received. Now lawmakers are returning home at a time when the expiration of UI has now meant more than a billion dollars in benefits has not been sent out, according to calculations by Ways and Means Democrats. That money, of course, has not been spent in local communities.
“We’re not just talking about the 1.5 million Americans who are clearly feeling the worst impact,” says Josh Drobnyk, a spokesman for Ways and Means ranking Dem Sander Levin. “We’re also talking about millions of other Americans — business owners, landlords, mom-and-pop-shop owners — who are now feeling the brunt of that billion dollars worth of unemployment benefits that are not being spent.”
Is there any chance at success? Almost certainly not. But there’s little else to do, other than try yet again — and extract as much political pain as possible along the way.