The House on Thursday defeated a bill that would have extended long term jobless benefits, even though a majority of lawmakers voted for it. Yes, it sounds wacky, but this is the Congress.
The vote was 258 to 154 in favor of the measure that would extend those benefits for three months, until the end of February 2011.
So, how did it lose? Because a two-thirds supermajority was needed for approval, after Democrats brought up the bill under special rules for fast track consideration.
"How dare we not provide an extension of unemployment benefits," said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), who glared at the GOP side of the aisle.
Democrats blamed Republicans for blocking the bill, as 143 GOP'ers voted 'No' - along with 11 Democrats. Backers were 17 votes short of two-thirds, as 237 Democrats voted 'Yes' - along with 21 Republicans.
The 21 GOP'ers who voted for the jobless benefits extension:
Bilbray (CA), Castle (DE), Dent (PA), the Diaz-Balart brothers (FL), Ehlers (MI), Gerlach (PA), Heller (NV), Johnson (IL), Jones (NC), LaTourette (OH), LoBiondo (NJ), Manzullo (IL), McCotter (MI), Tim Murphy (PA), Platts (PA), Posey (FL), Reichert (WA), Ros-Lehtinen (FL), Smith (NJ) and Turner (OH).
As for the 11 Democrats who voted against the extension:
Berry (AR), Boyd (FL), Bright (AL), Cooper (TN), Davis (TN), Hill (IN), Minnick (ID), Nye (VA), Peterson (MN), Shuler (NC) and Taylor (MS).
For those of you scoring at home, every single Democratic 'No' vote came from a Blue Dog. Only two of those 11 won their re-election races, Peterson and Shuler.
Now, to be fair about this story, Democrats could have pushed this jobless benefits bill through the House if they really wanted to. What, you ask?
Well, if Democrats had brought the bill up under regular order on the floor, then a simple majority would have been sufficient.
But - and here's the rub for Democrats - doing that would have opened up the process slightly, and allowed for a parliamentary motion by Republicans in which the GOP could have forced a vote on offsetting budget cuts to pay for the extra spending involved.
In case you've been away from your radio for the last two years, Republicans want offsetting cuts to pay for extended jobless benefits, Democrats do not.
The Congressional Budget Office estimated this three month extension would cost around $12 billion.
For now, Democrats seem ready to play Legislative Chicken against the Republicans on this issue, more than happy to cast the GOP as a bunch of Holiday Scrooges by not letting jobless benefits through around Turkey Day, and five weeks before Christmas.
We'll see what happens after Thanksgiving, when the Lame Duck House returns to work.