WASHINGTON Jan 14 Efforts to renew emergency
federal jobless benefits for 1.5 million Americans stalled in
the U.S. Senate on Tuesday when Democrats and Republicans
rejected each other's proposals.
Both sides vowed to keep looking for a compromise, but it
appeared unlikely they would find one before next week's Senate
"It is extremely important that we act, and today we failed
to act," said Democratic Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island.
"It is not over," said Republican Senator Rob Portman of
Ohio. "We are not going to give up."
If and when the Democratic-led Senate passes a bill to
extend benefits, the measure would have to be approved by the
Republican-led House of Representatives before it could go to
President Barack Obama to sign into law.
Obama has been pushing Congress to renew the benefits for
the long-term unemployed - people who have been out of work for
at least six months. Their benefits expired on Dec. 28.
Since then, the number of long-term unemployed has risen to
1.4 million from 1.3 million. Unless funding for the federal
program that provided the benefits is restored, the number of
jobless Americans losing benefits is expected to increase by
72,000 a week.
Republicans and Democrats have accused each other of being
more interested in jockeying for political position than
actually extending jobless benefits.
On Tuesday, Democrats rejected as inadequate a Republican
proposal to renew benefits for three months at a cost of about
$6.5 billion, which would have been offset by cuts elsewhere.
And Republicans rejected as excessive a Democratic proposal
to extend benefits until the mid-November at a cost of $18
billion, which would also have been offset by other spending
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid offered to allow
Republican amendments on Tuesday, but Republicans rejected the
terms requiring that amendments get at least 60 votes in the
100-member chamber to pass.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell called the Reid
Democrats control the Senate, 55-45.
Reid brushed off the criticism and said the Senate needs to
step up and help the jobless.
"We need to remember the urgency of this matter," Reid said.
"There are lot of people who are desperate."