Coburn filibustering unemployment extension, Dems searching for a way around (UPDATED)

by: Chris Bowers

Thu Mar 25, 2010 at 15:59

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.

Chris Bowers :: Coburn filibustering unemployment extension, Dems searching for a way around (UPDATED)

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How Are They Going To Do It? (0.00 / 0)
If they need 60 votes? Unless some Republican will vote for this I don't see how they get cloture at any point?

Are not all 41 Republicans committed to blocking this? Because I thought they were all "mad as hell and not going to take it anymore!" about HCR.

John "You kids get off my lawn!" McCain promised all out war didn't he? Isn't that what this is? All out tantrum by Republicans just to prove they still can block things?

why isn't this awesome? (0.00 / 0)
Why do we need a solution for this? Why a work-around? They want to keep yapping for two weeks in order to deny people unemployment benefits? Let them do just that.

Because thousands could miss rent (4.00 / 3)
or not have money to put food on the table.

Holding people hostage because you don't get your way isn't really that awesome for anyone.

[ Parent ]
no (0.00 / 0)

1. The bad press this would generate would force them to stop well before April 5 OR
2. Find a solution but initiate later, say April 4.

[ Parent ]
... (4.00 / 2)
That's a deadly game of chicken to play with sociopaths who don't care about the middle class.

[ Parent ]
How does paying retroactively avoid these problems? (0.00 / 0)
Most business don't accept the "I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today!" strategy.

I agree - make these nincompoops the face of the GOP.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
Whenever I heard about this sort of thing, I (4.00 / 7)
get incredibly pissed at Democrats.

Only five or six senators can deny unanimous consent pretty much indefinitely? Nothing in the past ten years struck a half-dozen Dem senators as worth of this sort of obstruction?

not really (4.00 / 2)
Reid can file cloture, and after a few weeks get his bill passed. This kind of thing can't stop a war, or the Patriot Act, or the stimulus, or the health care bill. But when it is one of many bills, and you want to pass it this week(!), it is possible to delay it.

New Jersey politics at Blue Jersey.

[ Parent ]
Still (4.00 / 3)
I'd like some Democrats to be capable of being a grandstanding jerk in the name of progressive politics.  If nothing else, doing the left-wing equivalent of Strom Thurmond's filibuster should make bring in some money and give an egotistical Senator an adoring fan base.

Things You Don't Talk About in Polite Company: Religion, Politics, the Occasional Intersection of Both

[ Parent ]
Sanders... (0.00 / 0)
Sanders would be the obvious choice... He's not a Democrat and he is safe as anyone for re-election.

[ Parent ]
Apparently not (4.00 / 1)
But, when the US Congress abicated their constitutional duty to be the ultimate "decider" on the issue of declaring war - did you really expect they would step up otherwise?

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
I don't see why they don't file for cloture now (4.00 / 1)
Even if they find some other way, the lag time to get a cloture motion and vote means they should start immediately.

In fact, given the last go round of this, they should have assumed some anti-civilization moron would filibuster it anyway and file for cloture at whatever the earliest possible moment was.

I assume by "another way" they don't mean a procedural means, but some kind of deal.  Like maybe Obama can appoint Bork to JP Stevens' seat when he retires or make Hans Von Spakovsky a Federal Judge in a district that is majority black.  Nothing less than making liberals eat dirt will satisfy Coburn.

The Dems want the Khabuki... (0.00 / 0)
Politico says that leadership is giddy at the optics of Republicans obstructing unemployment benefits...  This will go one for a little while longer...

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!

[ Parent ]
can they just extend unemployment benefits for the next (4.00 / 1)
6 months or so?  or are we going to have to go through this song and dance routine every month?

My understanding was (0.00 / 0)
it would extend benefits for another year, or near enough.  I forget where I read that, though, so grain of salt and all.

Health insurance is not health care.
If you don't fight, you can't win.
Never give up. Never Surrender.
Watch out for flying kabuki.

[ Parent ]
... (4.00 / 2)
Fuck them...make them work until sunday.   Most of us don't get the amount of vacation time these guys get and make far less than they do to top it off.       This should be a political non-starter and the Dems should be on TV accusing every Republican of killing unemployment coverage.

I am assuming they aren't going to go on break? Is that too much to ask of them? (4.00 / 2)

Retroactive (4.00 / 3)
Is a pain in the ass for states to administer, not to mention delay in getting checks to people who need them.

Self-refuting Christine O'Donnell is proof monkeys are still evolving into humans

kabuki (4.00 / 1)
so the dems are blocking the republican bill and the republicans are blocking the dem bill.

how exactly is this filibustering by the republicans and not mutual obstruction?

Even only five or six Senators working in tandem can deny unanimous consent pretty much indefinitely.

but can they deny a simple majority to pass vote on the bill indefinitely? or are the dems just making up shit to get us riled up?


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