Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., plans to continue to push for an extension of unemployment insurance even as Republicans argue that Democrats are playing politics with the issue.
“We are going to continue to work on this ... until we get justice for these [unemployed] people, ” Reid said.
Reid’s comments came at a news conference where he pounded Republicans over the standoff regarding extending unemployment insurance.
Republicans voted against cutting off debate Monday on a Democratic proposal that would have extend the expanded jobless assistance for about 11 months and would be offset by adding another year to automatic spending cuts, known as the sequester, through fiscal 2024.
The GOP rejected the Democratic proposal as unfair because Reid would only let Republicans offer five amendments with a 60-vote threshold for passage, but demanded only a simple majority threshold for final passage of the extension.
“I think it's important ... that Republicans go home … and explain to the people in their respective states why they didn’t give these people their benefits because of process, because I was mean to them,” Reid said. “This is [a] filibuster.”
Republicans have argued that Democrats don’t want a solution to the issue and would rather have the matter unresolved in order to blame the GOP for obstruction at the expense of the long-term unemployed — particularly during the State of the Union address set for Jan. 28.
“Absolutely, there is no other conclusion one could come to,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said.
Reid called the charge “asinine” and noted Democrats want to hold more votes on amendments.
The GOP has argued that Reid has not allowed Republicans to offer amendments to bills, which they believe disenfranchises their constituents. Democrats have said the GOP abuses the amendment process by offering a large number, including ones that are only politically motivated.
But in recent days, Reid has said he wants to try to hold more amendment votes.
Reid said that the Democratic caucus has announced to their Republican colleagues that they are happy to do a number of amendments as long as the number isn't "outrageous" and the amendments are "relevant."
“I don’t know how we can complain about that," he said.