Republicans who helped keep a bill to restore long-term jobless aid alive earlier this week say they won't stay on Democrats' side unless the legislation's backers find a way to pay for the $6.4 billion program.
Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., were two of the six Republicans who gave Democrats enough votes to begin debate on the extension. But at a news conference Wednesday, both said they won't vote to advance the bill any further unless the extension's cost is offset.
The unemployment insurance legislation faces one more 60-vote hurdle before it could pass. That means that, without backing from Portman and Ayotte, it's all but doomed.
Ayotte is proposing a way to pay for the program - and fulfill some other GOP wishlist items -- by closing a tax loophole she says helps undocumented immigrants commit fraud, but that plan hasn't gained traction with Democrats.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Wednesday that he's open to paying for the jobless aid extension but only if Republicans propose an offset that Democrats can support.
NBC's Carrie Dann contributed.