Senate plans to compromise on extending unemployment benefits

Monday, April 4, 2011 | 9:13 p.m. CDT; updated 4:56 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, April 5, 2011

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article reported that Sen. Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles County, said the Senate "would go all night" to break a filibuster over extending unemployment compensation benefits. Dempsey, however, said he was committed to finding an alternative solution rather than breaking the filibuster or making the Senate go all night.

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.

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Mike Lauri April 5, 2011 | 1:52 a.m.

Who does this Lembke fool think he is ? Did someone elect him Chief of the Unemployment Compensation Police? I would
MUCH prefer to have a job than to collect unemployment insurance benefits, but I also would like to be able to pay my mortgage and utility bills, and maybe have at least one meal a day. Mr. Lembke, you should be ashamed of yourself for this revolting grandstanding. I hope and pray that you find yourself unemployed and in the same situation as many thousands of your constituents are.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz April 5, 2011 | 8:45 a.m.

Speaking as someone who filed for unemployment in the past couple of years, you would be lucky to pay for much more than your mortgage on the max weekly benefit of $300. Eat, yes.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Dick April 5, 2011 | 9:27 a.m.

If Sen. Lembke wants to run the federal government he needs to run for the offices in the US Senate or House of Representatives. The men and women elected to the Missouri government need to run the Missouri government, not to try and run the federal government.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield April 5, 2011 | 12:40 p.m.

And yet the Tribune's Sunday classified section keeps getting longer. Plenty of opportunities out there. For example, the city is hiring meter readers at a salary of $25,000-$35,000.

(Report Comment)

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