Over 70,000 families across the US are set to lose their unemployment benefits this week following last night’s cloture motion on an extension failed by one Republican vote.
1.7 million Americans were left without unemployment insurance after the program expired on December 28th of last year. Since then, senate Democrats have repeatedly sought an emergency extension of the program, only to see it beaten back every time because they have not been able to convince enough Republicans to join them.
Speaking after the vote, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada (D) spoke of the immense frustration felt by many Democrats after the Republicans once again refused to back the extension:
[box type=”shadow”]I’m beginning to believe there is nothing that will get Republicans to yes. It’s a ‘no’ vote because they don’t want to extend unemployment insurance. We’re one Republican vote away from restoring benefits to 1.7 million Americans. There is one Republican vote standing in the way of a lifeline to these 1.7 million people. And every week [Republicans] delay, another 73,000 Americans lose these crucial benefits — benefits that help them keep food on the table and a roof over their heads while they search for a job.[/box]
Democratic senate candidate Alison Grimes, who is set to face Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in the 2014 midterms, focused her ire on his apparent disregard for the very people he is supposed to serve:
[box type=”shadow”]Today, nearly 20,000 Kentuckians were one vote away from receiving the income they need to put food on their families’ tables; Mitch McConnell could have been that one vote. Instead, he chose to turn his back on good people who have worked hard and want to work again. To make matters worse, McConnell continues to laugh in their faces by refusing to offer a jobs plan to help put them back to work.[/box]
The vote revealed the extent to which senior senate Republicans (many of whom have an eye their party’s 2016 presidential nomination process) are totally disconnected from the average American family. Several prospective nominees such as Rand Paul (R-KY), Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) all voted against the cloture motion.
With the midterm elections approaching, and with several recent studies showing that many American families are increasingly relying on welfare and other benefits, the GOP faces a huge public backlash as it positions itself as the party of the few and not the many, a party that is more concerned with farm subsidies and tax-cuts for the richest Americans than the wellbeing of the most vulnerable Americans, an increasing number of whom are children.