This vote was on passing a bill that would extend eligibility for federal unemployment insurance until Nov 30, 2010. It would be applied retroactively to June 2, in order to make up for the fact that Congress let the authorization lapse for a time before this bill could be enacted.
Democrats had to rewrite this bill several times from its original formulation in order to get enough votes from Republicans and moderate Democrats to pass the measure. In essence Democrats gradually scaled back its spending until they had enough votes. Democrats portrayed Republicans who objected to the bill as unfeeling in the face of unemployed Americans in need. Republicans answered that they are all for extending unemployment benefits, but that it must be done in a way that doesn’t increase the deficit.
Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said she was “appalled at the lengths to which the Republican minority will go to stop people who are out of work from getting some help.”
“We are in a situation where we finally, after eight different votes and weeks and weeks of trying, had enough votes to overcome a filibuster,” Stabenow said.
Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., said Democrats are misportraying Republicans’ position in order to score political points.
“I wish to set the record straight. This is not a dispute about extending unemployment benefits. There is broad bipartisan agreement that we should do that. Republicans have voted several times in the past to extend benefits. I have. The dispute, rather, is over who should pay for those benefits. Should we finance this $34 billion obligation in the short term with a loan from a foreign government and pass the tab on to our kids and grandkids or should we pay for it now by cutting other Federal spending? That is the question. It is a matter of who is going to pay for the benefits we provide to people,” Kyl said.
By a vote of 59-39, the bill was passed. All but one Democrat present voted for the bill. All but two Republicans present voted against the bill. The end result is that the Senate passed a bill that would extend eligibility for federal unemployment insurance through Nov. 30, 2010, applied retroactively.