Unemployment insurance extension clears key hurdle in Senate

January 7

The Senate narrowly cleared a key procedural hurdle Tuesday in the bid to extend unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless, with most Republicans refusing to support the extension without corresponding budget cuts.

On a 60 to 37 roll call, Democrats just cleared the 60-vote hurdle needed to move on to a full debate of the legislation. The final outcome of the legislation remains in doubt, as several Republicans supported this maneuver to begin the debate process hoping to negotiate further changes to the $6.5 billion legislation.

Currently, the bill would extend the benefits for three months at a cost of about $6.5 billion.

The six Republicans voting in favor were Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio).

The bill was spearheaded by Heller and Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), and up until the vote Tuesday, it wasn't clear whether Heller would get enough Republicans to vote to move ahead with the legislation.

Even if it passes in the Senate, though, it faces a tough path in the GOP-controlled House.

Here's the full story.

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Aaron Blake | January 7