by Mary Tuma
Via Creative Commons Images.
In a surprising move, the U.S. Senate voted 60-37 on Tuesday morning to extend long-term unemployment benefits for three months. After a GOP-led effort cut the critical lifeline for 1.3 million Americans in late December, Democrats— supported by President Obama— fought to restore the compensation insurance. As the Associated Press reports, the unemployment bill reinstates between 14 and 47 weeks of benefits. However, the bill still has a long road to go down before final passage. If it fully clears the Senate after debate on how to pay for the program, it still must go through the GOP-controlled House, an uphill battle for Dems and UI benefit advocates.
Six Republicans joined the vote, granting it the 60 yeas needed to pass— Texas Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn were (perhaps expectedly) not among the six, according to the Senate roll call. In their home state, unemployment rates hover at 6.1 percent— just one percent shy of the national rate. While the vote was scheduled for Monday afternoon, Cornyn demanded a delayed vote, calling the initially scheduled vote a "political exercise" as 17 senators were absent from the floor due to inclement weather.