An emotional criticism of the state senate comes from one of its members who says the senate has spent hours debating a useless abortion bill while it does nothing to protect long-term unemployed Missourians.
Senator Jolie Justus of Kansas City challenges her colleagues to tell people at home how they have protected the sanctity of life but also tell them they have not protected 10,000 families that will lose their employment benefits because “we have failed to act as a body.”
Justus is referring to the ongoing filibuster by four senators who have blocked a vote on a bill letting the state accept tens of millions of dollars to pay for an additional 20 weeks of jobless benefits for long term unemployed Missourians.
She says she has heard several senators say the blockage is the fault of four senators who have blocked a vote. In truth, she says, “We own this. We did it. All 34 of us. I want you to go home this weekend and talk to those families that will no longer be able to feed themselves because we’re cutting off their benefits.
The four senators who have filibustered the bill are led by Jim Lembke of St. Louis, who is joined by Brian Nieves of Washington, Rob Schaaf of St. Joseph, and Will Kraus of Blue Springs.
Justus maintains a late-term abortion limitation bill advanced by the senate this week–likely to be approved early next week—will not reduce the number of abortions. She says all 63 abortions in Missouri since 2009 that would have been affected if the bill was already a law were non-viable fetuses and therefore would not have been covered by the bill. She says the bill does nothing but interfere with families and with the practice of medicine.
Senate leader Rob Mayer of Dexter says he hopes to find a way to convince Lembke to drop his filibuster. He says he has been told Lembke’s support from some of the other three might be softening.
Previous attempts by Mayer and by Majority Floor Leader Tom Dempsey of St. Charles have not moved Lembke, who says Missouri should reject the funds to send a message to Congress not to overspend federal funds. A number of state and federal officials say the money will not go back to the federal treasury to balance the budget if Missouri rejects it. It will, instead, to other unemployment programs.
Mayer and Lembke talked before both left the Capitol for the weekend.
If the senate passes the bill, which cleared the House weeks ago, eligible unemployed Missourians will be eligible for the additional 20 weeks of benefits. But their payments will have been interrupted, starting this weekend. ”