Yesterday the Senate finally voted after months of a stalemate to restore unemployment benefits. But as Steve Benen points out, months of stalemates aren't enough for the modern obstructionist Republicans. They've got to twist the knife just a little longer:
Under inexplicable Senate rules, after a filibuster is broken, the minority trying to block passage can delay a final, up-or-down vote for 30 hours. Democrats hoped Republicans would agree to waive this pointless delay, and allow the Senate to vote on jobless aid. Republicans, who know the bill is going to pass anyway, refused without explanation.
Of course! No explanation because there isn't one beyond getting in the way of granting relief to hard-up Americans. Needless to say, Harry Reid wasn't happy.
Now, I hope the American people understand how callous this is. People are desperate, can't make house payments, car payments, can't pay for kids' food. And they are having us wait for 30 hours after cloture's been invoked. We only need a simple majority to pass this bill now, but they're making us wait. I just can't articulate in strong enough feelings how unfair this is to 2.5 million people.... Every hour that is delayed is more misery for 2.5 million people.
And neither this morning was the White House, which issued the following spot-on statement:
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 21, 2010
Statement by the Press Secretary on Continued Delay on Unemployment Insurance Extension
A day after the Senate moved forward to pass the unemployment insurance extension to help millions of Americans fighting to get back on their feet and find work, the partisan minority in the Senate is yet again obstructing passage of this bill. After blocking this aid three separate times over the past weeks, Republicans have once again refused to reach an agreement and allow this bill to come to the floor for a vote quickly so these benefits can be restored. Republican obstruction has already cost 2.5 million Americans essential aid they need to pay their rent, put food on the table, and take care of their kids. By the end of this week, roughly 350,000 more Americans could be added to that number. The livelihoods of nearly 3 million Americans shouldn’t hinge on partisan game playing in Washington. This latest move gives the partisan minority thirty more hours to stall in the Senate, but that means thirty more hours of suffering for these hardworking families trying to get by.
No other business can be handled by the Senate either while this show is going on, according to Benen. But like it or not, a deadline will hit at 9 PM EDT and the vote will be forced upon their shallow, indifferent heads.