The United States Senate has hit the ground running during their opening days of the new year. Most likely attempting to put distance between themselves and that whole "least productive Congress ever" thing, the members of the Senate are working hard to convince taxpayers that they do, in fact, earn their money.
Just yesterday, for example, the United States Senate confirmed Janet Yellen as the first woman to act as chair of the Federal Reserve. It hasn't been all sunshine and roses, though, as reports have surfaced that Rep. Peter King had some strong words for his fellow Republican, Rand Paul, who's planning on bringing a class action lawsuit against the Obama administration for the NSA spying debacle that broke last year.
Today, however, the biggest news coming out of Capitol Hill is the United States Senate's surprise decision to extend unemployment benefits. The vote, originally slated for yesterday, was postponed until this morning, presumably to give Senate Democrats an opportunity to rally more support for the bill, which aims to keep more than 1.3 million Americans from losing their unemployment benefits.
The bill initially met with some opposition, mostly because that's what Senators feel obligated to do pretty much every time someone from the opposing party opens their mouth. Senate majority leader Harry Reid responded to the inevitable criticisms by saying that members of both parties supported an extension of the UI benefits, because the country is still not out of the economic woods just yet. A recent post from mediamatters.com seems to support Senator Reid in his claims. By comparing this recession against previous economic downturns, the piece indicates that Reid is indeed correct (that'd be a first) in his assertion that there is still work to be done on the nation's economy.
Political hardliners might wonder why the bill is being sponsored by Dean Heller (R) and Jack Reed (D), the Senators from Nevada and Rhode Island, respectively. These two states boast the highest unemployment rates in the country (both are tied at 9%). Wouldn't it seem that these men are - at least in some part - responsible for the failing economy of their respective states? At what point did it become the United States Senate's responsibility to make up for its members' failings? Of course, people have been asking that question for years, so the likelihood of it being answered falls somewhere between slim and none.
Oh, one more little tidbit. Remember at the end of last year when the United States Senate was all jovial and excited and high-fiving each other for finally passing a budget? Come on, you remember. Well, the billions of dollars that will be allocated to extend UI benefits for another three months - that wasn't in the budget. So, four seconds into the new year and Senate politicians are already bending over backwards to undo what little work they did last year.
Great work, guys!