Update: The Huffington Post has more on this developing story:
"Coburn has the stamina of three Bunnings," said a Dem aide. "I really believe this is a retaliation for the passage of health care."
The aide said Reid was not interested in cutting a deal that pays for unemployment benefits with stimulus funds, since offsetting the government spending by withdrawing money from another part of the economy essentially nullifies its stimulative effect. "We're going to keep trying but I don't think we're going to get an agreement," the aide said. "They want to pay for unemployment insurance on the backs of out-of-work people and we're not going to do that."
"We're going to keep fighting back. My hope is we'll just stay and stay and stay," said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) in an interview with HuffPost. He said he hoped Democratic and Republican leadership will reach a deal before the break. In the meantime, he added: "Part of getting a deal is for people to see how strongly we feel. So that's our job, is to show spine."
I'm with Wyden on this one. However, Senator Stabenow also hinted at a way that Democrats might adjourn without passing the extension:
Stabenow said that even if the Senate adjourns for its two-week break without finishing the bill, the measure would apply retroactively when it is finally passed -- meaning that laid-off workers will get their unemployment checks eventually if there's a delay. "We can't get it done right now, but it will be retroactive."
That would still be damaging. They need to stay and pass this thing.
Tom Coburn is currently filibustering an extension of unemployment and COBRA benefits. The current extension ends on April 5th. After passing the reconciliation bill, the Senate was planning to adjourn for a two weeks recess until April 5th. So, there is a chance this filibuster could result in the Senate adjourning without passing an extension, which would result in hundreds of thousands losing their benefits for a week or more.
In order to end this filibuster, Democrats need to either file for a cloture vote, or for Coburn to relent and allow unanimous consent. Coburn is being supported by a few other Republican Senators, so don't expect the latter. Even only five or six Senators working in tandem can deny unanimous consent pretty much indefinitely.
So far, Harry Reid has not filed a cloture motion. Mitch McConnell has done so, but on a bill that would use stimulus funds to pay for the extension of unemployment benefits and COBRA. This is considered to be a non-starter, so Harry Reid is going to move to table that motion. He will succeed.
I spoke with an aide to the Senate Democratic leadership who said they are "still trying to figure out another way around this." So, the path forward remains unclear. Even if they did file for cloture, it would take several days to pass the bill, and thus prevent the Senate from going on recess until at least Sunday.
I will post updates on this developing situation as they appear. The Senate needs to pass this extension before adjourning for any recess.