Senate Democrats: ‘We’re All a Bit Surprised’ by Unemployment Benefits Vote

After a vote to proceed with an insurance-extension bill, Senate Democrats and President Obama trade frustration for optimism.

The National Journal

An hour before the Senate voted on pushing an unemployment insurance bill forward Tuesday, it appeared that the Republican votes the Democrats needed weren't there. When six votes materialized, just enough to reach the 60 required for passage, Democrats seemed almost unprepared to celebrate rather than slam.

"I think we're all a bit surprised," said Sherrod Brown of Ohio during a press conference with other Senate Democrats. The vote opens the bill, which would extend unemployment benefits that lapsed for 1.3 million Americans at the end of 2013 for another three months, up to debate.

Rhode Island's Jack Reed, a sponsor of the bill, attributed his surprise to "being Irish" and "always expecting the worst." He said he must "personally thank" Dean Heller of Nevada, the bill's Republican sponsor. Heller said Monday that passing the legislation is "the right thing to do."

Senate Democrats praised Tuesday's bipartisan effort. For Brown, the showing is an indication of future compromise. "I think it means good news for a minimum-wage increase down the road," he said.

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