Once more, into the jobless breach

ONCE MORE, INTO THE JOBLESS BREACH…. Late last week, when Senate Republicans once again refused to allow the chamber to vote, up or down, on extended unemployment benefits, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) vowed to give it another try.

And here we go again.

Last night, Sens. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Max Baucus (D-Mont.), the Senate majority leader and the head of the Senate Finance Committee, introduced a new unemployment extension bill. It is not actually strictly standalone: It includes an extension of the period in which homebuyers can close on a house and claim the homebuyer tax credit, a change agreed to in the House yesterday, and other provisions. […]

Reid filed for cloture last night, and is working with Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to move the bill today, though Republicans have repeatedly objected to any measure that increases the deficit.

The new bill extends federal unemployment insurance benefits through Nov. 2010, and the closing period for qualification for the homebuyer tax credit to Sept. 30. It is technically a substitute amendment to the killed jobs legislation.

Annie Lowrey’s summary is well worth reviewing — the bill does more than just extend benefits for the jobless, but notice that it doesn’t include aid to state governments, which would save thousands of jobs, but which Republicans continue to oppose.

What are the odds that the GOP will let the Senate vote on this smaller bill? Reid’s office concedes it’s unlikely. It was tough enough to overcome Republican filibusters when the Democratic caucus had 59 votes, but in light of the death of Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), and with Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) voting with Republicans, this is even more difficult.

Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) might be a possible pick-up vote, but he continues to oppose the measure, regardless of the negative consequences for his home state of Massachusetts. Instead, Brown is pushing his own alternative measure that would fund jobless benefits by taking money out of the Recovery Act.

What a transparent sham. Brown will only help the unemployed if he can undermine the economy? Because the deficit is that much more important than job creation?

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.