Filibuster on unemployment benefits in Mo. Senate ends with deal
Four Missouri State Senators have ended their filibuster of legislation to draw down $105 million in extended federal unemployment benefits.
On Wednesday, the four senators, led by Jim Lembke (R, Lemay), had offered to end their filibuster if Governor Jay Nixon (D) would reject $300 million in federal stimulus funds.
When that didn’t happen, the filibuster was back on, until Senate President Pro-tem Rob Mayer (R, Dexter) made an agreement with Lemke.
“You’re committed to stand with us and find $250 million worth of wasteful pork-barrel spending, and cut that and send it back to the federal government…is that correct, Senator?” Lembke asked. “That is correct,” Mayer said.
A reduction in state unemployment benefits from 26 weeks to 20 weeks is a key part of the agreement. It was added on as an amendment by State Senator Mike Kehoe (R, Jefferson City).
Lembke says he can live with the agreement.
“My goal from the beginning was to send back as much stimulus money as possible, borrowed money from the federal government, and that’s what we accomplished here,” Lembke said.
The bill still needs final approval from the Senate before moving back to the Missouri House, which passed the original bill in February.
Updated 3:35 p.m. April 7, 2011:
Via the Associated Press, more about deal reached to end the filibuster:
The Missouri Senate has embraced a plan to extend federally funded jobless benefits while cutting
eligibility for state-funded benefits.
Several Republican senators upset about federal spending ended a filibuster Thursday against legislation renewing the federal long-term unemployment benefits. They did so after the Senate voted to cut state jobless benefits by six weeks, from a maximum of 26 weeks down to a maximum of 20.
Also as part of the deal, Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer pledged to help the filibustering senators identify $250 million of federal stimulus spending that can be cut from the state's budget.
A final vote still will be needed next week in the Senate.
Updated 2:55 p.m. April 7, 2011:
Via the Associated Press:
The Missouri Senate has voted to cut eligibility for state-funded unemployment benefits by six weeks.
The amendment approved Thursday was offered as part of a deal that could lead to a vote on legislation allowing a renewal of long-term, federally funded jobless benefits.
At 2:15 p.m. on April 7, 2011:
Currently, according to our statehouse reporter Marshall Griffin, this is the situation in the Senate:
Four Missouri Senators who are blocking $105 million in unemployment benefits have taken a break from their filibuster. At this moment they are meeting with President Pro-Tem Rob Mayer. It’s believed that they are discussing a compromise that would end the filibuster and allow the jobless benefits to move forward.
The Missouri Senate has again brought up a bill to extend federally funded unemployment benefits.
Some Republican senators upset about federal spending continued to speak against the bill Thursday, but Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer said he hopes to resolve the stalemate before the day ends.
Senate opponents offered Wednesday to relent, but only if Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon agrees to eliminate $300 million of federal stimulus spending for various programs. Nixon has not commented directly on that offer but has said he still supports the unemployment legislation.
At issue is an additional 20 weeks of benefits for people who already have been out of work for a year and a half. About 10,000 people lost benefits when Missouri's eligibility in the program ended Saturday.