Four state senators blocking unemployment benefits to thousands of Missourians have changed the rules of their game. The four now say it will be the governor’s fault if they do not let the bill come up for a vote—because he won’t tell them what 300-million dollars in federal stimulus funds HE would send back to Washington. Once he tells them that, they say, they’ll make sure spending plans they refer to as “egregious” pork projects are removed.
When one reporter asked the four senators about their previous claims that some people should be back at work and were only “gaming” the system, Senator Brian Nieves of Washington demanded reporters tell the senators “which one of the four of us has ever said anything remotely similar to that.”
In fact, one of the four HAD said that, about ten minutes earlier. Senator Rob Schaaf of St. Joseph told reporters, “I’ve said it many times–it’s just outrageou8s that we would ask one citizen to work and take that citizen’s tax money and give it to somebody else who could work but isn’t working for two years.” Schaaf then refused to answer a question about what percentage of the long-term unemployed “could work” but aren’t.
Now the four say the jobless benefit bill will not be allowed up for a vote until the governor negotiates the 300-milion dollars in cuts they want. The legislature, not the governor, has the power to cut appropriations bills. The four have not indicated an interest in putting their suggested cuts to a vote of the full senate.
The unemployment benefits for thousands of Missourians ran out last week because the four had refused to let the funding bill for extended benefits come to a vote in the Senate. The bill passed the House by a wide margin several weeks ago.