Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Tuesday moved to hold long-term unemployment insurance benefits hostage in an effort to delay President Barack Obama’s health care reform law.
As the Senate was set to vote on breaking a Republican filibuster and extend the benefits that had been cut off last month, McConnell came to the Senate floor on Tuesday with a proposal that Democrats delay the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate for one year.
“I’m sure that many on my side who would like to see these additional weeks of benefits extended, if like the Speaker of the House indicated he supported we could find a way to extend them without actually adding to the national debt,” the minority leader opined. “So to that end, I’d like to propose that we be allowed — my side be allowed to offer an amendment to pay for these benefits by lifting the burden of Obamacare’s individual mandate for one year and take care of our veterans who were harmed by the recently agreed to budget deal while we are at it in the same amendment.”
As Slate’s Dave Weigel pointed out, McConnell was basing his assumptions that delaying the mandate could pay for the unemployment benefits on a Congressional Budget Office study which assumed that less people would seek Medicaid coverage if the insurance requirement was postponed.
In the end, Senate Democrats were able to break the Republican filibuster and advance the bill to extend unemployment benefits, 60-37, without McConnell’s help.
Watch this video from C-SPAN, broadcast Jan 7, 2014.