Democrats are hoping to turn the procedural tables on Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) and use Senate rules to break his blockade against an extension of unemployment insurance, including possibly forcing a round-the-clock session.
Newly energized Democrats, who believe they have gained the political upper hand thanks to Bunning's one-man crusade against the short-term benefits extension, rejected outright a Republican proposal to allow three votes on pay-fors for the bill before a vote on final passage. Bunning has demanded the measure, which would run for one month at a cost of $10 billion, be paid for.
"We're not having four votes," Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday following a weekly Conference luncheon in which Democrats rejected the GOP offer. Although Reid and his colleagues are willing to allow one vote on a pay-for — the original agreement Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) cut last week — they see no reason to go further in mollifying Bunning.
Although no final decisions have been made, Democrats confirmed it is increasingly likely that Democrats will force Bunning into an actual filibuster of unemployment insurance extension Tuesday night by repeatedly offering up unanimous consent agreements to bring the bill to a vote.
Although Members often threaten actual filibusters, they rarely materialize. Instead, lawmakers tend to rely on "Cadillac filibusters," essentially stalling procedures that can be used to block legislation without having to actually stay put on the Senate floor.
Democrats on Tuesday signaled they have the resolve to remain in session throughout the night to force Bunning to abandon his cause. The American people "want an end to these games. And I hope that today we'll see the end. If we don't, we're going to have to have a long, long night ahead of us to make the point that it's wrong for one Senator to stop our people, our American people, from getting the help they deserve," Environment and Public Works Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said Tuesday.