Friday, March 05, 2010

McConnell: Unemployment Benefits Extension Likely To Pass


Kentucky's senior Senator said another extension of unemployment insurance benefits will likely be passed by the U.S. Congress next week.

WLKY's Andy Alcock had a chance to ask Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell some questions.

McConnell is in Louisville this weekend. The University of Louisville alumnus will be at the Cardinals' final Freedom Hall basketball game Saturday.

For several days, Kentucky's junior Senator, Jim Bunning, one of McConnell's fellow Republicans, kept a measure extending unemployment insurance benefits for March for hundreds of thousands of Americans from coming to the floor for a vote. He expressed concerns about the federal deficit. The move drew national attention.

The move drew national attention.

"I'm embarrassed that a senator from Kentucky has put us as a government in that position," Kentucky Rep. John Yarmuth, a Democrat, said on Monday.

"That's behind us and we're looking forward," McConnell said.

Tuesday, Bunning stopped his blockade of the unemployment extension.

When the measure came to a vote on the Senate floor, he voted no. McConnell also voted no.

"Well, I thought he had a point. We ought to pay for it," McConnell said.

"We know we face longterm deficit situations, but we also know that there's a balance to be struck. When you have people hurting, someone's going to have to help feed their families," Yarmuth said.

The Senate is working on another, longer extension of unemployment insurance benefits.

"We're dealing with a bill now, a much larger bill, that I hope will also ultimately be paid for," McConnell said.

Last week, McConnell also took part in a health care summit with President Barack Obama.

As part of the summit, the president promised to include some Republican ideas in the bill being considered in the House.

"That isn't going to get our members on board. We think this bill needs to be put on the shelf and we need to start over and go step by step to work on the cost issue," McConnell said.

McConnell also accused the Democrats of arrogance for trying to push through a bill he said the American people don't want.

"The only history that will be made if they vote for it is their own history, they'll be history," McConnell said.

Yarmuth said on Monday he expects House Democrats will approve the health care bill with a rarely used tactic called reconciliation.

McConnell pointed out Democrats used that same tactic in 1993 and lost control of the Congress in 1994. He noted Republicans did it in 2005 and also lost control of Congress in the next year's election.
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