A bill to revive extended unemployment benefits squeaked through its first procedural vote 60-37, a narrow win that outlets including Politico are characterizing as a surprise. Six moderate Republican senators voted with Democrats to renew the recently expired benefits: Kelly Ayotte, Susan Collins, Dan Coats, Dean Heller, Lisa Murkowski, and Rob Portman. But even those senators want the extension to be paid for by spending cuts before the final vote later this week, the New York Times reports.
"I voted to proceed with the debate," Portman said, while Collins revealed that she'd had a talk yesterday morning with President Obama about paying for the bills. Harry Reid almost held the vote last night, before John Cornyn accused him of playing political games by holding the vote with 17 senators missing, in part because of weather delays. Reid grudgingly agreed to hold off. But Democrats make no bones about the political aspects of their effort. "These will be bookend issues for 2014," the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said. (Read more unemployment stories.)