JEFFERSON CITY — After letting unemployment benefits run out for thousands of Missouri residents, the Senate leadership promise to revisit the issue by the end of the week.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles County, said he hopes to bring the $105 million in federal money to the floor again and attempt to break the filibuster, which led to the benefits' expiration. The federal money would extend benefits for an additional 20 weeks for more than 10,000 unemployed Missouri residents.
After failing to pass an extension of unemployment benefits at the end of March, the Senate leadership have said they will try again to pass the proposal.
"At the end of the day we will get a vote on unemployment," Mayer said.
Missouri's House overwhelmingly approved the extended benefits months ago, but the proposal has hit a major roadblock in the Senate. Sen. Jim Lembke, R-St. Louis County, has led a filibuster against the funds and said Missouri needs to send a message to Washington about irresponsible spending. Lembke said rejecting the funds would save the federal government $96 million.
Gov. Jay Nixon weighed in on the issue at a Friday's press conference and urged the Senate to reconsider.
"The reality is that too many Missourians are still out of work," Nixon said at the press conference. "As our economy gains steam, it's critical that we continue to stand with these folks and help them get back on their feet."
Lembke, however, said he was looking out for the taxpayer and the federal debt during his filibuster.
"The federal government is broke ... my position is looking out for what is best for the Missouri taxpayer," Lembke said.
Dempsey said they have been trying to compromise with Lembke, offering to reduce the extension to 10 weeks instead of 20. Although Dempsey said he could force a vote on the issue, he would prefer to settle it with a compromise.
If the Senate is successful in passing the extended unemployment benefits, the proposal could hit the governor's desk by the end of the week.