The Conversation: Is Congress Playing Politics With Unemployment Benefits?

Politico's Chris Frates on who's to blame for ending unemployment benefits

ByABC News
June 30, 2010, 9:57 AM

July 1, 2010— -- More than 1.3 million unemployed workers won't be getting their next round of unemployment benefits, after Congress failed again to pass an extension bill Wednesday night. With Congress taking a Fourth of July recess, those hoping to get their benefits reinstated will have to wait until at least July 12th, when Congress comes back in session to pick up the issue.

The main holdup is coming from Republicans, who have filibustered the bill three times. They say paying for the benefits by adding to the national debt is unacceptable. Instead they propose using the leftover money from last year's economic recovery package to pay for the bill. For now, Democrats have rejected that offer.

"The only reason the unemployment extension hasn't passed is because Democrats simply refuse to pass a bill that doesn't add to the debt," said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

In today's Conversation ABC's Ron Claiborne talks with Chris Frates of Politico about why Congress has failed to get these unemployment benefits passed. With Democrats and Republicans both placing blame on the other side of the aisle, who is really to blame?

Frates points out that Democrats were perhaps hoping to convince Republican Scott Brown of crossing over and voting with them on this bill, something that clearly did not occur.

Meanwhile, as members of Congress head home for the July 4th break, Frates says they will be doing their best to explain to constituents why their side of the argument is the right side.

So watch the Conversation and decide for yourself, what is really keeping Congress from extending unemployment benefits?

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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