Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH)
After repeatedly blocking extensions of emergency unemployment aid, even when Democrats met their demands
, a few Republican senators are now talking about how much they really want to extend unemployment insurance, and trying to figure out what their new demands will be
Sens. Dan Coats of Indiana, Rob Portman of Ohio, Dean Heller of Nevada and Susan Collins of Maine want a deal that could bring the Democratic drumbeat to an end. They gathered last week to plan how to revisit the cause when the Senate returns next week, hoping they can get Democrats to agree to their policy changes and finally move the red-hot issue off the Senate’s plate.
“We’re still working on the same thing, which is solving the problem,” Portman said in an interview Tuesday. “I continue to believe that we can solve this if Democrats want to.”
No, you could have solved this if you'd voted for the bills Democrats have already brought up and which even got a few Republican votes, with the most recent falling just one vote short of overcoming your party's filibuster. (Heller and Collins did vote in favor, but Coats or Portman could have tipped the vote.)
The group of concerned-but-not-that-concerned Republicans has a list of possible demands including things like yanking benefits from people who've received a "suitable" offer of work; of course, since people on unemployment already have strong guidelines for what jobs they can turn down and still receive benefits, we're most likely talking about a radical reinterpretation of what a "suitable" job is. And so on.
It's ridiculous that we're in this position at all. The emergency unemployment aid should never have been allowed to expire to begin with. Republicans have now blocked repeated votes to renew it even as Democrats have given them what they asked for. They don't get to try to seize the high ground now while extracting further concessions.