Senate Clears Key Hurdle on Jobless Benefits

After a more than a month of delay from partisan squabbling, the Senate has just cleared a key procedural hurdle, paving the way toward passage of jobless benefits for the more than two million out of work Americans at a cost to the taxpayers of $34 billion.

Just minutes after being sworn in as the newest senator from West Virginia, Carte Goodwin handed Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., a 60-43 victory on shutting down a filibuster to head toward final passage of legislation that will allow long-term unemployed workers to collect benefits. Under the current legislation, benefits will now flow through November 30, though those who have been employed 99 weeks or longer will not get an extension of their benefits.

Republicans argued that benefits should be paid for, with GOP Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., turning his ire on President Obama, who on Monday in a Rose Garden ceremony chastised Republicans as standing in the way of the jobless, even though the bill was slated for passage the next day.

"As a former senator, the president is well aware of how the Senate works. He knew that today's vote to extend these benefits had already been scheduled days before he told the nation in two national broadcasts that Republicans were holding it up. He also knew it would pass, but he intentionally implied otherwise, leaving the public without all the facts," McConnell accused, adding, "So here are the facts. Republicans support extending benefits to the unemployed. As the president himself said yesterday, we've repeatedly voted for similar bills in the past, and we're ready to support one now. What we do not support, and we make no apologies for this, is borrowing tens of billions of dollars to pass this bill at a time when the national debt is spinning completely out of control."