WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republicans and Democrats are squabbling publicly over legislation to resurrect federal unemployment benefits, at the same time they privately discuss possible steps toward compromise.
Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada met Monday with two Republicans to discuss the stalled legislation, then went to the Senate floor and said the GOP wants to use the debate to take potshots at President Barack Obama's health care overhaul.
Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Democrats are the reason for the bill's hold-up. He said that until the weekend, Reid wanted to renew the expired program without paying for it or including measures to help the laid-off find work.
More than 1.3 million of the nation's long-term jobless lost weekly benefits averaging about $256 when the program expired on Dec. 28.