Moments ago, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) shot down a motion by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to proceed to legislation extending federal unemployment insurance by up to 20 weeks in the states hit hardest by the recession. It marks the fourth time in three weeks that GOP leaders have prevented the bill from advancing, though the reasons behind the stalemate have changed.
Specifically, GOP leaders have dropped their insistence that the Senate consider amendments related to ACORN and immigration. Instead, they're now demanding a vote on a provision to fund the unemployment insurance extension with stimulus funds, and another to move up the expiration date for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which enable federal bailouts of Wall Street firms -- both non-starters with Democrats.
The bill has already been approved by the House and Senate Democrats want to keep it clean so that it can be moved forward in the legislative process without being bogged down by unrelated, highly-contentious political issues.