Will the clown-like dysfunction in the U.S. Congress obliterate all possibility that extended unemployment benefits are made available to the 1.3 million residents who currently qualify?
Since the cloture vote last week, the Senate has spent days negotiating what is the next step: figuring out the best way to pay for the extension.
Democrats had put forth two plans. But a week later, and after gaining little ground on an agreement, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, decided on Tuesday that the best way to end the debate over the two measures would be to call for a vote, The New York Times reported.
After all, the Senate would be taking yet another week-long break soon, and the issue was far too pressing to allow so many unemployed Americans go another week without the benefits.
But Reid gambled wrong. The GOP voted both measures down. And the Senate failed to reach an accord. The failed votes ending in another round of partisan finger-pointing, with both parties accusing the other of negotiating in bad faith.
Republicans complained about what they viewed as the tyrannical leadership of Reid, who, at first, refused to let them offer any amendments to unemployment measures. So, on Tuesday, Reid offered to let each party introduce five amendments each.
But Republicans balked again about Reid's requirement that each amendment receive a minimum of 60 votes, despite insisting Republicans give up the customary 60-vote threshold on the vote for the final bill, in favor of a majority vote.
GOP members said Reid's double-standard for voting would likely doom their amendments. And so the bickering continued.
"I hope you all are beginning to get the picture here of who's responsible for dysfunction in the Senate," said Minority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky. "This is utterly absurd."
Some senators remained optimistic that they would still be able to reach a compromise, reported the paper, but the earliest they are likely to return to the legislation is at the end of the month.
After they return from their weeklong break.