ABC News’ Matthew Jaffe reports:
The Senate will swear in the interim replacement for the late Sen. Robert Byrd next Tuesday afternoon, Majority Leader Harry Reid announced today, and no sooner will that happen then the Senate will vote on restoring and extending unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless.
Led by Reid, Democrats have tried on numerous occasions in recent weeks to get the bill passed, but Republicans have balked at its $34 billion price-tag.
On June 30, Reid and the Democrats fell only one vote short of the 60 they needed to break through the GOP filibuster, so Reid knows that the vote from the new West Virginia senator should be enough to help them pass the measure.
To date 2.1 million people have been affected by the lapse in unemployment benefits, according to the National Employment Law Project. By the end of this week, that number will rise to 2.5 million people.
Nearly every Republican has opposed the restoration and extension of the jobless benefits through November 30 on the grounds that it would add tens of billions of dollars to the nation’s soaring deficit. One Democrat – Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska – has opposed the measure, too.
But with the new senator from West Virginia – whomever state Gov. Joe Manchin chooses – coming to the rescue, the long-term jobless are poised to get the help they’ve been waiting for since the benefits lapsed on June 2.
- Matthew Jaffe