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Extending emergency unemployment insurance hasn't fallen off of the Democratic priority list, but beyond that, it's difficult to say much more. Senate Democrats are searching for the 60th vote to renew the aid, which expired in late December, but Republicans continue to make unreasonable demands in exchange for their votes. Democrats had been trying to get a three-month extension passed, to buy time to work out a longer deal, but by now, the first three months is almost up:
“I’m certainly thinking of the possibility of a longer duration, because at this juncture … a three-month [bill] becomes almost a retroactive lump sum payment, not a continuation of the program,” said Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), the chief Democrat sponsoring the effort. “Time has been evaporating over the last several weeks.”

Instead, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his leadership team are pitching a bill that would revive benefits for six months or so retroactive to December, using the new farm law’s billions in savings to pay for a half-year extension’s price tag of roughly $12 billion to $13 billion.

There appears to be some chaos behind the scenes as Democrats look for ways to extend the unemployment aid without giving away the entire farm, while Republicans demand multiple farms; Democrats had been reported to be seeking the vote of Indiana Republican Sen. Dan Coats, but his office is denying even having heard from Democratic leadership in recent weeks.

The two pieces of real clarity we have on this issue are that 1.8 million Americans who have been jobless for six months or more are currently without the unemployment insurance they need to survive, and Republicans have blocked and are continuing to block an extension of that aid.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 01:29 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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