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Voinovich: Reid More Interested in Bashing GOP Than Passing Unemployment Extension Bill

Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) today is accusing Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the Senate majority leader, of playing politics with the federal extension of unemployment benefits. He says Reid rejected a compromise, offsetting half the cost of the bill with stimulus money, to keep the blocked unemployment extension as a cudgel against the GOP. Here is Voinovich’s full statement:

I have supported tens-of-billions of dollars in assistance for unemployed families in Ohio thus far and last week supported another unemployment insurance extension which was paid for. Unfortunately my Democratic colleagues blocked that amendment offered by Senator John Thune which also would have paid for tax extenders and FMAP without borrowing money on the credit card of our children and grandchildren.

In order to move forward, yesterday I told Leader Reid that I would support extending unemployment insurance if Democrats would be willing to use some of the estimated $40 billion in unspent stimulus monies to help offset at least half of the stand-alone unemployment insurance extension. He flatly rejected this request even though Democratic Leadership was going to take $10 billion from the stimulus to help pay for business tax breaks just last week. My concern is that the Democrats are more interested in having this issue to demagogue for political gamesmanship than they are in simply passing the benefits extension. I came to the table with a fair compromise and the ball is in their court.

Voinovich might have been and still might be the decisive 60th and final vote for cloture on the bill, stalled out for a month now, costing 1.2 million Americans extended benefits. He has voted for earlier incarnations of the extension. Republican Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine are a likely yes for the bill; Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) is a likely no — leaving Democrats one short.

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