Attentive readers may wonder why I haven’t written anything today about the pending Senate vote on an unemployment insurance extension. For one thing, it’s not clear whether the threshold procedural vote’s happening today or tonight or later. For another, there doesn’t seem to be any fresh intelligence on how the vote–which depends on a handful of uncommitted Republicans–is going to go, though most assessments are relatively positive.

If the bill passes the Senate, it’s unlikely to go anywhere in the House unless big spending offsets are offered. If it doesn’t, that will be two deaths for the extension, the first having been the failure to get it into the December budget bill.

The ultimate question is how many deaths this measure can die before Republicans start getting some serious public heat for obstructing it even as many of them claim they’re for it under certain circumstances (you know, if they had some ham, they’d make a ham sandwich, if they had some bread). A closely related question, which Greg Sargent mulls over at Plum Line, is how many times Democrats at both ends of Capitol Hill continue to play the what-if game as the long-term unemployed continue to suffer.

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.