Senate Democrats are betting that a week in their home states will persuade Republicans to change their minds on an unemployment-insurance measure that they blocked this week.
Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin said Thursday he plans to bring another extension of the benefits, which expired on Dec. 28, to the floor when the Senate returns after the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday break.
"I think it's important for the Republicans to go home "¦ and explain to the people in their respective states — these Republicans — why they didn't give these people these benefits because of process," Majority Leader Harry Reid said. Procedurally, bringing the bill crafted by Sens. Jack Reed, D-R.I., and Dean Heller, R-Nev., would be possible because Reid filed a motion to reconsider.
In terms of policy, Democrats view the extension as a means to bolster the economy, because the benefits would inject cash into the system and because they believe the safety net catches Americans in need. But the benefits could also serve as a political boon to Democrats, who contrast their desire to help Americans in need with what they cast as a Republican conference overly concerned with Senate procedure.
Reid pointed to a one-year paid-for version of the bill that was blocked this week as an example of what he called a Republican filibuster. But Republicans accurately make the case that Reid blocked them from offering amendments. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell this week, calling the benefits important, cast blame on Reid for thwarting Republicans' ability to offer amendments of their choosing.