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U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, June 27, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Democrats will continue to push for an extension of emergency unemployment aid after Congress returns from next week's recess, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday. The recess part is important:

Dems point out that lawmakers have not been home since the full impact of the expiration of UI hit Americans. The Christmas recess ended just as final checks were being received. Now lawmakers are returning home at a time when the expiration of UI has now meant more than a billion dollars in benefits has not been sent out, according to calculations by Ways and Means Democrats. That money, of course, has not been spent in local communities.

“We’re not just talking about the 1.5 million Americans who are clearly feeling the worst impact,” says Josh Drobnyk, a spokesman for Ways and Means ranking Dem Sander Levin. “We’re also talking about millions of other Americans — business owners, who are landlords, mom-and-pop-shop owners — who are now feeling the brunt of that billion dollars worth of unemployment benefits that are not being spent.”

Republicans are blocking the unemployment insurance extension and all they seem able to offer in their own defense is that Harry Reid is being mean to them through use of Senate procedure. This is not the most compelling defense for cutting off a lifeline to 1.5 million people and weakening the economy. The Republican way of trying to up the ante is to suggest that Democrats don't really want to pass the bill—a claim weakened by the minor fact that Democrats keep bringing it up for Senate votes and voting in favor while Senate Republicans vote against it and House Speaker John Boehner refuses to allow a vote, a claim Reid described as "asinine." Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, meanwhile? He's showing how seriously he takes unemployment by laughing in response to a conservative radio host saying "I hope you vote no on extending unemployment benefits." Because obviously it's so laughable to think McConnell would vote yes that it requires no other response.

Hopefully some pressure from constituents over the recess will at least make clear to Republicans that emergency unemployment insurance is not a laughing matter.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 01:10 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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