MO Statehouse
4:52 pm
Thu March 3, 2011

Filibuster against federal unemployment benefits continues in Mo. Senate

A group of Republicans in the Missouri Senate is still blocking a bill that would allow the state to receive $81 million in federal unemployment benefits.

But the bill's supporters say Missouri hasn't lost out yet, despite today's deadline for getting it passed.

The first deadline is a so-called "soft" deadline, according to Senate Majority Floor Leader Tom Dempsey (R, St. Charles).  He says Missourians who've been unemployed for more than 79 weeks will continue receiving benefits until at least April 2nd.

"There (are) still another three weeks for this to possibly be worked out," Dempsey said.  "I think rejecting the bill doesn't do anything to balance the budget...that money has already been appropriated."

And Dempsey says he may bring up the bill again before the April 2nd hard deadline.

"It'll provide assistance for about 23,000 Missourians," Dempsey said.  "We need to continue to work on those policies that will provide opportunities for them and others for good-paying jobs."

But State Senator Jim Lembke (R, Lemay), who's leading the filibuster, says that Missouri should turn down the $81 million as a means of telling Washington it needs to reign in federal spending.

Dempsey says he'll meet with other senators before April 2nd to discuss whether to bring the bill up again.  He would not comment on whether he or other GOP leaders would consider using a procedure known as PQ (or, moving the previous question) to cut off debate and end the filibuster.