Up until yesterday, only one Republican – Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) – had revealed his support for a three-month extension of the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program that expired on December 28.
Now, with at least two (and maybe three) more Republicans expressing a willingness to vote for cloture on the bill, Democrats are close to breaking the filibuster.
Yesterday afternoon, Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) all revealed that they will vote for cloture on the bill. According to CNN, Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) will do so as well. Along with Heller and the 55 Democrats, that’s 59 votes.
Democrats are sure to up the pressure on Republicans from districts with high unemployment rates such as Sens. Sens. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), Bob Corker, (Tenn.), Johnny Isakson (Ga.) and Mark Kirk (Ill.). President Obama called Kirk yesterday to lobby him to vote for cloture, but he was not in his office.
Even if Democrats are able to gain cloture on the bill, the odds of passage are still long. Collins stills want a spending offset included in the legislation and may withdraw her support for final passage otherwise. Then, it would have to get through the House.
The Senate is scheduled to vote at 10:30 a.m. today.
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