Six House Democrats Flip to Support Unemployment Bill

Posted July 1, 2010 at 10:07pm

Six of the 16 House Democrats who voted against extending unemployment benefits Wednesday had a change of heart overnight and backed the bill Thursday.

Among the flippers was Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (S.D.), the administrative co-chair of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition. She has become a thorn in the leadership’s side by pushing for offsets to pay for a series of jobs measures this year.

The five other Democrats who switched to “yes” Thursday were Reps. John Adler (N.J.), Melissa Bean (Ill.), Travis Childers (Miss.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.) and Frank Kratovil (Md.).

One Democrat, Mike McIntyre (N.C.), missed the vote Wednesday but voted “no” Thursday.

Democrats had grumbled behind the scenes that the “no” votes were undercutting the Democratic message that callous Republicans were blocking aid to the jobless.

Whitney Phillips, a spokeswoman for Herseth Sandlin, noted that the bill was brought to the floor under a rule instead of under suspension Thursday, which allowed a vote on a Republican alternative that would have offset the cost of the bill with spending cuts.

“She feels as though we are making progress, though she would have preferred to vote for a bill that is completely offset,” Phillips said. Herseth Sandlin, along with 26 other Democrats, voted against the ruling of the chair that the Republican amendment was not germane to the bill.

“With what’s happening in the Senate, it’s looking more likely than not that some or all of the bill will be paid for — and that’s a good thing that can come through this painful process,” Phillips said.

The 16 Democrats who voted “no” Wednesday came under pressure from bloggers. Salon.com, for instance, listed them under the headline, “The Democrats who hate the unemployed.”