An attempt to restore long-term jobless benefits for millions of Americans failed to move forward in the U.S. Senate once again on Thursday.
With a 58-40 vote, Democrats fell short of the 60 needed. Reuters reports:
With the support of four Republicans, backers of the bill initially got 59 votes, one shy of the needed 60. [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid then switched his vote from yes to no, which under Senate rules allows him to bring the measure up again.
The vote was an attempt to fund an emergency benefits package that extends aid to the jobless during periods of high unemployment. The provision was passed in the wake of the 2008 economic crash, but lawmakers have failed to renew it after several attempts despite continued long-term unemployment numbers.
In addition to the two million recipients who lost benefits at the end of last year, each additional week another 73,000 Americans will lose those benefits — "benefits that help them keep food on the table and a roof over their heads while they search for a job,” as Sen. Reid noted.
"All 42 Republicans need to answer for this vote," writes Bill Scher at Campaign for America's Future. "Why did they decide now was the time to cut off aid to the long-term unemployed, when we could help them at no cost to the taxpayers, at a time when there are three unemployed workers for every one job opening and those out of work for more than six months have the hardest time getting job interviews?"
Scher continues, "The Republican Party is now standing squarely against help for the unemployed, at any cost. And unless they shift before November, they will have to take that message to the voters."