Jobs Bill Might Die Today -- Leave Millions Without Unemployment Benefits
Last night the AP reported that an aide to Harry Reid said the jobs bill (which extends unemployment benefits, various tax cuts, aid to state to pay for Medicare and Medicaid, and more) would be dropped if it failed a cloture vote today.
Earlier this morning, I spoke to an aide in Harry Reid's office who confirmed this story to me. Here is the state of play:
- The bill is two votes short, as it faces united opposition from Republicans and assistance from Ben Nelson.
- Republicans are offering a one-month extension, and Democrats are rejecting that offer. While it is not impossible that a deal would be struck before the vote today, it is unlikely.
- If the cloture vote fails, then the Senate will not take up the bill again. Procedural delays have created a quagmire where many other pieces of legislation, including the Wall Street reform bill and others which can create jobs rather than just protecting them, need to be dealt with. A 30-day extension would just back up the process even further, as it means there would be another fight before the august recess.
- Here is what will happen as a result of this bill being defeated:
Come Friday, 1.2 million people will lose access to the extended unemployment benefits, a number that will grow by several hundred thousand every week after that. Fifty million Medicare claims from June are currently in process at the reduced rate, which the AARP says has already caused some of its members to have trouble finding a doctor. And the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that dropping the $24 billion in aid to states will lead to cuts in services and thousands of layoffs, and that spending cuts to close states' aggregate budget shortfall absent new federal funds in 2011 would lead to 900,000 public- and private-sector layoffs.
The aide stressed that while the outlook is grim for today's cloture vote, and while you never know what will happen in the Senate, there is no path forward on the bill right now. It's just dead.
This is a monstrous defeat. This is going to hurt a lot of people, and Republicans won't pay any political price for it. No one is writing about this, and with Democrats in charge, they will be blamed for it. A huge, huge victory for Republicans. Looks like they didn't even need the 2010 elections.