Early on Tuesday, the US Senate was able to narrowly avoid a filibuster and begin debate on an extension to unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless in this country. Somewhat unexpectedly, six Republicans joined up with the Democrats to allow the bill to see the floor. It appeared at that time that the Senate would be able to narrowly pass the spending measure without having to deal with a filibuster, as it was widely assumed that all 60 votes that allowed it to go to debate would also vote to pass it.
Well, on Wednesday afternoon, both Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) backtracked and said that they would only vote for passing the extension if Democrats would agree to offset the new spending with cuts elsewhere. Apparently, other than attacking the Affordable Care Act, it seems that Ayotte and Portman have their eyes set on eliminating a child tax credit. Why do they want to eliminate this tax credit? Because they have found that some undocumented workers have claimed it in the past. (Insert eye roll.)
With Ayotte and Portman backtracking and demanding what the rest of their Republican brethren is, the onus falls on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to get something done. Reid isn’t completely opposed to offsetting the spending, but he would prefer that it doesn’t affect the working or middle-class. Most likely, he’d probably go for elimination of certain tax cuts or loopholes to the wealthy, or cuts to military spending. This is what he had to say on the Senate floor on Wednesday:
“If Republicans are so interested in paying for this measure, they should propose a reasonable way to do so. That doesn’t attack the Affordable Care Act or punish American children, as these two proposals they presented yesterday do. They should propose an offset that might actually pass. Instead they propose a string of political amendments each more doomed to failure than the last one they offered.”
For the most part, Reid and the Democrats feel that it is unnecessary to even offset this spending, as they feel that is is classified as emergency spending. I feel that most level-headed people would agree. But, of course, this is a Republican Party that was asking for cuts in spending to justify relief funds in the wake of Sandy. So, what do you expect when it comes to millions of families feeling the pinch during the middle of winter? Yep, the same old heartlessness and lack of empathy.
Whereas Portman was being seen as placing politics aside for the greater good when he voted with Democrats on Tuesday, went ahead and showed his true colors on Wednesday when he had this to say:
“I think they had hoped, frankly, some of them, from a political point of view, that they could say Republicans were obstructing. I think we kind of took them by surprise and instead we’re saying we absolutely don’t want to obstruct.”
So much wrong with this statement. So, so much wrong with it. First off, he is saying that Democrats were hoping that it wouldn’t be able to pass for political reasons. That they were hoping to score some political points by NOT helping out desperate families, hoping that the GOP would be their normal obstructionist selves. Then, he say that the Republicans proved they are not obstructing anything. This AFTER he did exactly that, which is to obstruct the bill from passing by demanding something in return! Man, this guy has some real gall.
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).