Senate Democrats will try again this week to extend unemployment insurance aid for the long-term jobless -- over a month since the benefits expired for 1.3 million Americans.
Negotiators have been trying to work out a compromise to restart the jobless insurance since the end of last year. Republicans blocked a three-month extension of the program last month, saying that it was not fiscally responsible.
A new version of a deal would be paid for extending a tactic called “pension smoothing” – which allows companies to reduce some payments to pensions in the short term.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has scheduled a vote to advance that version of the bill on Thursday, but it’s not clear that Democrats will have enough backing to overcome a 60-vote threshold and keep it alive.
Reid suggested Thursday that the impasse was due to Republican callousness towards the unemployed.
"We have an issue here. They do not want unemployment insurance extension. They don't want that," Reid said Tuesday of the GOP. "They don't care about these people as voters. We do. We care about them as voters, as human beings."
President Barack Obama, who has been frustrated in his push for the jobless aid extension, announced a new program last week to help the long-term jobless overcome discrimination during their search for work.
“Each week that Congress fails to restore that insurance, roughly 72,000 Americans will join the ranks of the long-term unemployed who have also lost their economic lifeline,” he said Friday.