Democrats Accuse GOP of Playing Politics With Unemployment Bill

Posted October 20, 2009 at 1:30pm

Senate Democrats blasted Republicans on Tuesday for playing politics with an unemployment benefits package that has been tripped up by a host of GOP amendments. “They’ve delayed passage by offering an amendment that has nothing to do with unemployment,— Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) said at a press conference. “Every day we can’t pass this benefit, fewer families can provide for themselves,— Reed added. At issue is whether to attach an amendment by Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) that would extend the popular homebuyers’ tax credit to the unemployment package. Republicans twice blocked Democrats from passing the larger unemployment measure last week, arguing the bill should include the tax credit. Democrats have been cool to extending the homebuyers’ credit because it means the measure would have to pass the House again, thus further delaying distribution of the jobless benefits. Democrats are also concerned with the $16.7 billion cost of the amendment, which is co-sponsored by Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.). “There are any number of places we could do a pay-for, and I’m happy to sit down and talk about it,— Isakson said. In the interest of getting unemployment benefits out to the millions of out-of-work Americans, Democrats at the press conference Tuesday leaned on the GOP to set aside their amendments, which included other measures related to immigration and the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, the controversial community organizing group.“We all know how badly we need this. We all know this needs to be done. Why don’t Republicans join us in a moment of bipartisanship?— Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) asked. Regan LaChapelle, spokeswoman for Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), said Democrats are “willing to work with them on related amendments to the bill to try and move it forward,— although the timeline for passing the unemployment measure remains unclear.