Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sen. Mark Kirk, (R-Ill.) | Chandler West/For Sun-Times Media
Durbin, Kirk yes on unemployment insurance: Kirk 1 of 6 GOP ayes
WASHINGTON — The Senate voted on Monday for an extension of long-term unemployment benefits with Sen. Mark Kirk R-Ill. one of six Republicans joining with Democrats, including Sen. Dick Durbin D-Ill. to pass the measure on a 59-38 roll call. The bill is a long-shot to pass the GOP-controlled House.
"Extending unemployment insurance for the thousands of Illinoisans seeking relief has been a long-standing priority of mine. I am pleased that this bipartisan, fully paid-for compromise passed the Senate this evening. I urge the House of Representatives to swiftly pass this legislation," Kirk said in a statement.
The bill would have restarted benefits that ended in December and has been a politically contentious issue with support mainly along partisan lines.
Over in the House, Democrats have been trying, unsuccessfully, to force a vote. Rep. Brad Schneider D-Ill. locked in a rematch with former Rep. Bob Dold R-Ill., has been leading a petition drive to pressure Republicans to bring an unemployment bill to the floor.
Dold replaced Kirk in the north suburban 10th Illinois congressional district, and often casts himself in the Kirk mold. Kirk's vote could make for a politically sticky situation for Dold, especially since Schneider has taken unemployment benefits up as an issue.
After the Senate vote, Schneider said in a statement, “The House should take immediate action on the Senate’s bipartisan compromise to extend unemployment,” Schneider said. “I respect my colleagues' right to disagree, but not even holding a vote is unacceptable. Failing to extend this critical lifeline hurts our communities, hurts our families and hurts our economic recovery. More than 2 million Americans, including more than 150,000 in Illinois, deserve better than this partisan gridlock.”