On the Senate Floor this morning, Senators Harry Reid and Dick Durbin explained how Republicans killed the effort to extend unemployment benefits:
Mr. Durbin: Will the Majority Leader yield for a question?
Mr. Reid: Yes.
Mr. Durbin: I would like to ask the majority leader through the chair for clarity, is the Senate Republican filibuster holding up unemployment benefits for 1.3 million Americans?
Mr. Reid: It’s actually now up to about 1.5 million.
Mr. Durbin: Again, addressing the Majority Leader through the chair, so the refusal of the Senate Republicans to allow us to vote on the extension of unemployment benefits is denying, on average about $300 a week to 1.4 million or 1.5 million Americans. Is that a fact?
Mr. Reid: That is true, Mr. President.
Mr. Durbin: Is it not true that the initial complaint of the Senate Republicans is that this payment of unemployment benefits was not paid for?
Mr. Reid: That is true.
Mr. Durbin: Is it also true that the Democrats came up with a pay-for that would have paid for the unemployment benefits, as the Republicans requested?
Mr. Reid: And a pay-for that was originally discovered by Paul Ryan.
Mr. Durbin: After the Democrats came up with the pay-for, the first demand of the Senate Republicans to stop their filibuster, did the Senate Republicans then join us in calling this measure for passage?
Mr. Reid: My friend, repeat the question.
Mr. Durbin: As we came up with a pay-for, that the Senate Republicans insisted on, did they stop their Senate Republican filibuster on unemployment benefits and allow us to move afford?
Mr. Reid: No.
Mr. Durbin: I’d like to ask the Majority Leader, if this followed: It is my understanding that the Republicans came up with a new demand that they be allowed to offer new amendments to the unemployment insurance package before they would drop their Senate Republican filibuster that was stopping unemployment benefits for 1 .4 million Americans.
Mr. Reid: That is true. And the biggest advocate we had for that on this side of the aisle was the whip, the Senior Senator from Illinois.
Mr. Durbin: I’d like to ask the Majority Leader this question: Is it not true yesterday that in response to this Republican demand, that you offered a unanimous consent request which would have given, in fact, up to 10 amendments on each side of the aisle, Democrats and Republicans, to this measure and that the Democrats did not specify what the amendments would be, that it was really the decision of the Republicans to offer those amendments. Did the Senate Majority Leader offer that to the Senate Republicans so that they would stop their filibuster of unemployment benefits?
Mr. Reid: The answer is yes. And in addition to that, there would be available on each side, if they wanted, five “side-by-sides” as we call them here, so that could be a total of ten amendments on each side, so 20.
Mr. Durbin: Senate Republicans insisted on a pay-for. The Senate Democrats provided it. The Senate Republicans still refused to stop their filibuster. Then the Senate Republicans insisted on amendments. We offered up to ten amendments on each side. Can the Senate Majority Leader say after offering that unanimous consent, did the Republicans agree to it and stop their filibuster of unemployment benefits?
Mr. Reid: I already said they did not.
Mr. Durbin: I would ask the Majority Leader at this point in time, what are we waiting for? What are the Senate Republicans now demanding to stop their filibuster providing unemployment benefits to 1.4 million people across America?
Mr. Reid: I have no idea.
Mr. Durbin: I would say to the Senate Majority Leader, it strikes me as unfair, if not cruel, that we are holding 1.4 million unemployed Americans hostage to this continued political negotiation where each day the Republicans come up with a new demand before they’ll stop their Senate Republican filibuster. I would ask the Senator from Nevada, our Majority Leader, does he believe that a majority of the members of the United States Senate would vote for the extension of unemployment benefits to these 1.4 million Americans if the Senate Republicans would drop their filibuster?
Mr. Reid: Oh, no question about that. Absolutely.
Mr. Durbin: I thank the Majority Leader.