Murkowski breaks ranks with Republicans over unemployment benefits

Once again flexing her moderate muscles, Republican U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski voted with a majority of Democrats and five other Republican colleagues to extend the debate over emergency unemployment benefits. About 1.3 million Americans have been taken off the benefit rolls since Dec. 28.

Republicans had been threatening to block debate unless they got to vote on a temporary repeal of the ObamaCare mandate. According to Politico, that the bill advanced with Republican votes “shocked Democrats, who appeared ready to strafe the GOP with charges of obstruction should the legislation stall on the floor.”

In a press release, Murkowski said that it’s “important that we have compassion for those Americans caught up in the administration’s economic policy failures,” and warned that the benefits can’t be extended indefinitely. “Instead, we need to see far more productive actions to strengthen job creation and restructure existing programs – not just ongoing safety net extensions – while seeking ways to not add to this nation’s deficit. That’s why I cast my vote today to have a responsible, solutions-based conversation about the unemployment problems facing this nation,” she said.

Debate will continue in the Senate as to how to pay for the $6.5 billion bill.

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