WASHINGTON – A push by Senate Democrats to extend jobless benefits lost by a single vote yesterday - as their nominee-to-be, John Kerry (search), missed the vote while campaigning in Kentucky.
Kerry, the only senator to miss the vote, said he didn't come back to Washington because "we were told that no matter what would happen, [the Republicans] would change a vote in the Senate and they were not going to let it happen."
The bid to extend federal jobless benefits for an extra 13 weeks failed by 59-40, one short of the 60 votes needed because the cost would exceed last year's budget agreement.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (search), D-N.Y., said almost 130,000 New Yorkers exhausted their jobless benefits between December and April. Opponents note the jobless rate dropped to 5.6 percent and say the emergency aid isn't needed.
President Bush's campaign spokesman, Steve Schmidt, said, "Last month, John Kerry was pushing for the extension of unemployment benefits. Today, he had the chance to actually vote on that question, but was too busy playing politics when he would have made the difference in the Senate."