After Filibuster, Reid Turns to Long-Term Benefits Package

Posted February 26, 2010 at 11:48am

After Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) blocked attempts this week to pass a short-term extension of unemployment benefits, Senate Democrats will try again next week by taking up a longer-term extension package.

The longer-term measure, which includes much of what Democrats were unable to pass in the 30-day extenders package, could be on the floor all of next week and perhaps the following, leaving various unemployment programs unfunded for several days.

The yearlong extenders package includes reauthorizations to unemployment and COBRA insurance programs and a set of tax extenders sought by Republicans and other provisions.

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was able to strike a deal with Republicans to go to the measure beginning Monday, but with a handful of amendments likely to be offered, the package will not clear the floor quickly.

The Senate is also scheduled to interrupt its consideration of the longer-term extension Tuesday when Members cast their first vote of the week — on the nomination of Barbara Milano Keenan to serve on the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. A procedural vote on her nomination is scheduled for 12:15 p.m. Tuesday. If cloture is reached and all debate time is used, the chamber will vote on Keenan’s confirmation Wednesday night, freeing up the floor for the Senate to return to the extenders package.

That measure is part of Reid’s continued to push to move legislation that falls under his “jobs agenda.” During this work period, which stretches until Easter, Reid also hopes to move a full reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration and a small-business jobs bill, partly funded by leftover Troubled Asset Relief Program money.