Missouri Senators Offer to Allow Vote on Jobless Bill

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JEFFERSON CITY - Several Missouri state senators who have been blocking a vote on extending federally-funded jobless benefits say they will only relent if the governor agrees to the elimination of $300 million in federal stimulus spending.

The condition is a change from earlier Wednesday, when a senator leading the filibuster said he would allow a vote on the unemployment bill and instead try to block up to $400 million of stimulus spending.

The senators later said at a news conference that they want Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon to share responsibility for rejecting the federal money. The senators could block the $300 million in funding without Nixon's help. This group of senators said this is money the federal government simply does not have with trillions of dollars in debt and a looming government shut down.

This small group of Republicans opposed extending the unemployment benefits for the same reason. Now, they said they've found other ways to get that done.

"My priority has been, as I work through these issues, is to lead an effort to send as much federal stimulus money back to Washington D.C," Sen. Jim Lembke, R-Lemay, said.

These unemployment benefit extensions aren't safe yet as these Republicans want Nixon to agree on the other cuts first. These benefits are critical to the 10,000 Missourians who lost eligibility for extended jobless benefits Saturday because of the filibuster. The extension would give these Missourians an additional twenty weeks of unemployment.

In a prepared statement, Nixon said he'll continue to fight for unemployment benefits.

"I support and stand with the thousands of Missourians who have lost a job through no fault of their own," Nixon said. "Helping them get back on their feet is a value we all share."

He also reiterated what he said last week when he urged this handful of Senate Republicans to stop their delaying tactics and to vote on the issue. The Governor said he'll continue to work with this group of Republicans to make sure that happens.