Republicans aren't blocking benefits for the long-term unemployed, the New York Times' Jonathon Weisman reports, because they're heartless bastards who don't care about the unemployed. No, it's all Harry Reid's fault, he says.
WASHINGTON — With his strong-armed change to the filibuster rule and an iron-fisted control of the Senate floor, Senator Harry Reid has engaged in the greatest consolidation of congressional power since Newt Gingrich ruled the House, unleashing a bitterness that may derail efforts to extend unemployment insurance.Please read below the fold for more on Reid's involvement in blocking unemployment reform.
Mr. Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, on Thursday dismissed all proposed Republican amendments to the unemployment extension, even those drafted by Republicans who had handed Democrats a victory on Tuesday by voting to take up the bill. [...]
A Republican effort to try to reopen the amendment process failed on a party-line vote, 42 to 54, setting up a showdown next week that is likely to end in the bill’s demise, Democrats conceded.
Weisman uses the example of an amendment from Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) that was rejected. He writes that the amendment simply requires "applicants for the child tax credit to have Social Security numbers," and that Reid rejected amendments like this in typical "brutish style." What Ayotte's amendment really does is punish undocumented immigrants and their U.S.-born citizen children by making them ineligible for the refundable Additional Child Tax Credit by requiring the parents have a Social Security number to claim the credit. That's a poison pill, as nearly all Republican amendments have been since Democrats took control of the chamber in 2007.
What Weisman also fails to acknowledge is that Republicans have routinely held unemployment benefits hostage since President Obama took office. Up until 2009, unemployment insurance didn't have to be paid for by cuts in other domestic spending. It was always categorized as emergency spending that did not require pay-fors. That all changed when Obama became president.
Instead what we get is a scathing profile of Reid's Senate leadership: this is an "uncompromising power play," one in a series of "slaps in the face" to Republicans; a "brutish style" of "uncompromising control over the process." He does allow Reid to respond, including Reid's assertion that "Republicans refused to agree to any reasonable limit on amendments despite his overtures." What Weisman doesn't say is that Republicans wanted 26 amendments to be considered for this bill. That's not a reasonable limit for a single, relatively simple, bill. Weisman also ignores the big picture of Republican obstruction in his discussion of this ongoing fight over amendments: the fact that Republicans try to bring dozens of amendments to every bill to gum up the works; the explosion in filibusters since Obama became president; the fact that Republicans have used every procedural tactic in the book to make every nomination, every piece of legislation drag out as long as possible if not die.
Republicans have to be crowing that they got the bastion of liberal media to publish a story that not only lets them off the hook for derailing this extension of unemployment benefits, but blames it all on Reid.