U.S.

Senate Moves Closer To Extending Unemployment Benefits

With the help of six Republicans, the Senate voted 60-37 to begin the debate on the three-month extension of long-term aid to 1.3 million Americans.

Senate Moves Closer To Extending Unemployment Benefits
The New York Times / Doug Mills
SMS

The millions who had their jobless benefits cut off would call it a small step forward. 

With the help of six Republicans, the Senate voted 60-37 to begin debate on the three-month extension of long-term aid to 1.3 million Americans. (Via C-SPAN)

And right after the vote President Obama congratulated the senators who made it happen. Though depending on your perspective, you could say he was putting the pressure on. 

“Voting for unemployment helps people and creates jobs and voting against it does not. Congress should pass this bipartisan plan right away and I will sign it right away.” (Via Politico)

An actual vote still has to happen in the upper chamber before it heads to the GOP-controlled House. 

Obama stressed that the extension needed to be passed all the way “across the finish line without obstruction or delay.” (Via Politico)

But it might not be that easy. Republicans say the $6.5 billion bill isn't paid for.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): “I am not opposed to unemployment insurance. I am opposed to having it without paying for it." (Via ABC)

And, after the vote, House Speaker John Boehner echoed the bill should be paid for AND “include something to help put people back to work. To date, the president has offered no such plan.” (Via Speaker.gov)

See — opponents have argued that long-term jobless benefits take away the incentive to actually work. But during his speech, the president called that untrue.

And though he didn't name him, it's widely being interpreted as a jab at Senator Paul.

“That really sells the American people short. ... I can’t name a time where I met an American who would rather have an unemployment check than the pride of having a job.” (Via CBS)

Even if the bill ends up passing the Senate, House Speaker John Boehner says he'll be looking for budget cuts elsewhere for it to see movement in the lower chamber.