The U.S. Senate shuttered Thursday afternoon for the 4th of July holiday after failing for weeks to pass unemployment insurance extension and condemning hundreds of thousands of jobless Americans to lose their benefits in the coming days. Sen. Mark Udall’s office said he was unsure when the legislation would again be brought for a vote. Sen. Michael Bennet railed against the politics of obstructionism.
“The Senate just closed the book on a month-long legislative ‘work’ period, but because of filibusters by a determined obstructionist minority of senators, Congress has very little to show for it,” Bennet said in a release.
“I don’t know when they will bring this bill up again,” Udall spokesperson Tara Trujillo told the Colorado Independent. Udall voted in favor of the $34 million lifeline Wednesday night when a stand alone bill to extend benefits died in the Senate by a single vote, Republicans voting almost entirely as a bloc against the benefit citing concerns over deficit spending.
Bennet also voted for the extension. The tone he strikes in his release was angry exasperation.
“With so many pressing issues facing this nation, the American people see more gridlock, more political games, more bickering. The problem has gotten so bad that the Senate can’t even reach agreement to vote on important issues, or in some cases, even to debate them.
“No vote on unemployment insurance and tax cuts. Blocked from voting on a small business jobs bill.
“The Senate cannot even get agreement to vote on Wall Street reform after the big Wall Street banks sent our economy tumbling into the worst recession since the Great Depression. Even something as simple as giving subpoena power to investigate the oil spill in the gulf is halted by one unknown Senator who has placed a ‘secret hold’ on it. The problem is not merely having too few votes to pass legislation, it’s also getting Senators to agree to even debate the issues.”
The Senate reopens for business July 12.