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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

 5:24 PM 

Wis. senators split on vote advancing unemployment benefits extension

U.S. Sens. Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson split today on a procedural vote that advanced legislation to extend federal unemployment benefits.

The cloture motion was approved 60-37, meaning a final vote could come later this week.

Baldwin, D-Madison, who has been pushing for the extension, supported the move to advance the bill, while Johnson, R-Oshkosh, was opposed.

About 23,700 Wisconsinites saw their benefits end when the extension expired last month. Baldwin called the legislation a "lifeline" for them as they look for work.

"Wisconsin's economy continues to lag behind other states and far too many hard-working people are still looking for a job," she said. "Now is not the time to make things harder for them by ending emergency unemployment assistance."

The bill faces an uncertain prospect in the House with GOP concerns over the $6.5 billion cost of the three-month extension.

Johnson said he voted no because the legislation contains no mechanism to pay for the extension. He said Dems pushed to increase spending in the budget deal reached last month and should be willing to put that money toward the extension if they truly believe in it.

"The unemployed need help," he said. "We need to concentrate on getting the economy growing, so they once again have jobs and do not need unemployment benefits."


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