The U.S. Senate has not been able to compromise on a plan to extend unemployment benefits, and Missouri’s two senators stand on opposite sides of the issue. A vote stalled in the Senate yesterday over unemployment benefits — Democrats wanted a one-year extension of the expired benefits and Republicans say they’ll support a three-month renewal, but only if costs are covered up front.
Sen. Roy Blunt says people who don’t face an end to getting a government check each week have no reason to find a job.
“I just don’t think its a plan. I don’t think it’s a policy,” Blunt said. “Permanent unemployment is not the answer, and two years of unemployment is pretty darn close to permanent unemployment.”
Sen. Claire McCaskill says the program needs to be modernized, and that Missouri is faring better than many other states where unemployment rates are higher. However, she does not think the majority of folks are looking for a free ride, as some of her Republican counterparts have suggested.
“It is not a lot of money,” she said, “and I have not met anyone who would rather get this check than a job.”
The checks are about $300 a week.
Both sides say they are working toward a bi-partisan compromise that can gain approval of the Democrat controlled Senate and the Republican controlled House. Democrats had wanted a one-year extension; Republicans said they would only vote in favor of a three-month plan.
Blunt says the program costs $6 billion every 90 days, and agrees with his fellow Republicans that an extension of benefits needs to be paid for up front.
“The package does what the Republicans wanted,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, pointing to a plan that would be paid for and would contain “structural changes they were demanding.”
However, Republicans rejected the proposal, bringing passage of a bill to an abrupt halt on the Senate floor.
The expiration of federal unemployment benefits on Dec. 28 has left about 1.4 million people without a weekly income.