With the economy as it is, why are they doing something so stupid?
In the world outside the Senate, time is money; inside it, time is everything. Senate Republicans are taking full advantage of that reality, using every parliamentary device at their disposal to slow down an extension of unemployment insurance benefits -- even after Democrats added billions for big business to sweeten the pot.
The saga is both a case study in the difficulty of passing even popular legislation in the Senate and the lengths to which the GOP is going to slow down the process.
The extension overwhelmingly passed the House 331-83 in late September. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) made a motion to pass it by unanimous consent in early October; it was blocked by GOP objections.
After negotiations, Reid filed for cloture on Oct. 21 to break a GOP filibuster. On October 27, the Senate voted 87-13 on a motion to proceed to consider the bill, breaking the filibuster.
But under Senate rules, the GOP is still allowed 30 hours of "debate." There actually isn't much debate, but the clock is ticking while senators take to the floor to make speeches about whatever they like.
To get things moving, Democrats sweetened the pot, adding in billions in tax breaks for business -- a net operating loss carry-back provision that the GOP has long favored -- and an extension of the home-buyers tax credit. Reid introduced the goodies in a substitute amendment along with Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), a champion of the business tax break.