This afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) squared off on the chamber floor over how to proceed on legislation to extend unemployment benefits at least 14 weeks. Needless to say, they failed to reach an agreement, with McConnell rejecting Reid’s motion to scrap tomorrow’s cloture vote and move directly to the bill, and Reid declining a counter-proposal to move to an alternative bill offered by McConnell.
Observers of the weeks-long debate might not be surprised to learn that the sticking points remain the same: McConnell is insisting on consideration of an amendment to prevent ACORN from receiving federal funds, and another designed to filter illegal immigrants out of the workforce. The Kentucky Republican said the eight amendments Republicans are offering won’t take much longer to consider than the six provisions Reid has proposed on behalf of Democrats.
“Under my consent agreement,” McConnell said, “we would finish about as rapidly as we would under the consent agreement that the majority leader just propounded.”
Reid didn’t bite, citing the two controversial amendments, which Democrats say are unrelated to the underlying proposal.
“I see no reason that we have to do immigration on this bill — that’s what E-Verify is all about,” Reid said. “I don’t know how many more times we have to pound on ACORN — we’ve voted on that many times already.”
Reid then asked for McConnell’s consent to pass the unemployment extension without any amendments at all. McConnell’s response:
There’s no reason why we can’t reach an agreement to take up the underlying bill with a limited number of [amendments], and finish the bill expeditiously. Simply cutting people off and not allowing any amendments at all is not an acceptable approach for the minority, therefore I object.