Jobless Benefits Battle

Republicans and Democrats are playing a classic game of legislative chicken in the Senate on a move to extend benefits for the long term unemployed.  How long it goes on and who benefits politically isn't quite clear.

Democrats want to act quickly on a plan that would extend jobless benefits by up to twenty weeks in some states for those who have exhausted or almost used up their unemployment insurance.

But Republicans want the right to offer some amendments of their choosing.  Democrats want to limit what the GOP can bring up.

And so we sit in a classic Legislative Box Canyon.  Nowhere to go except to a cloture vote today, with a forecast of a 100% chance of partisan finger pointing.

If there aren't 60 votes, then Democrats will blame Republicans for being against extra benefits for the unemployed, while Republicans will blame Democrats for trying to do this without paying for it and without allowing other amendments to the bill.

One item that some in both parties want to bring up on the unemployment bill is a plan to extend an $8,000 homebuyer's tax credit which expires at the end of November.

While the plan has bipartisan support, there were a lot of questions raised last week about fraud involving the credit, which could endanger its extension.

There are rumblings of a deal on the homebuyer's credit.  We'll see if anything gets worked out this week, as Democrats try to push through the unemployment bill and another stop gap budget to keep the government running while lawmakers finish the budget for the current fiscal year.