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January 07, 2014 11:44 AM UI Extension Moves Ahead in Senate

By Ed Kilgore

By the narrowest of margins (60-37), the Senate headed off a Republican filibuster and proceeded to consideration of legislation extending unemployment insurance for another three months without budget offsets. It’s not clear at this point which four GOP senators joined original cosponsor Dean Heller in voting for cloture, but we’ll pass that along when it’s been reported.

What’s most interesting to me is that in the debate prior to the vote, Mitch McConnell announced that his conference’s demand for supporting a UI extension was not some budget offset, but rather suspension of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate. That certainly comports with the general determination of Republicans to make 2014 all about Obamacare, but is an abrupt departure from the earlier line of opposing a UI extension without offsets as a matter of fiscal responsibility. We’ll soon see if House GOPers follow the shift in strategy.

UPDATE: Brother Benen reports that six GOPers voted to proceed with the UI extension. Along with cosponsor Dean Heller, they included Kelly Ayotte, Dan Coats, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and Rob Portman. Apparently one Democrat was absent.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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