Missouri Senate leaders must end mean-spirited filibuster today
Update: Shortly before 11:30 a.m., the Missouri Senate adjourned so that lawmakers can attend the Cardinals and Royals opening games, if they so choose. “Drive safely and have a great weekend,” the leader told members as the august body called it a day.
It won’t be a great weekend for the thousands of Missourians described below. They will now lose their unemployment benefits because four senators filibustered a bill accepting federal money, and senate leaders chose not to stop them. Shameful.
Original Post: Today is the day for Republican leaders of the Missouri Senate to do the right thing and shut down the mean-spirited filibuster that threatens to cut off unemployment benefits for thousands of Missourians who are having the roughest time in the job market.
Four senators are preventing passage of a bill that would permit Missouri to accept federal funding to help people who have been out of work for more than 79 weeks, but less than 99. The House already has passed the bill, but unless the Senate moves today, the opportunity will expire on Saturday. Legislators usually take Fridays off.
Senate leaders could put an end to this nonsense through a parlimentary procedure known as calling for the “previous question.” Lawmakers consider that a “nuclear option,” but it’s been done before and it is certainly appropriate now.
The four Republican senators — Will Kraus of Lee’s Summit, Rob Schaaf of St. Joseph, Brian Nieves of Washington and Jim Lembke of Lemay — are promoting the false notion that they’re somehow reducing the federal deficit by refusing the money.
Pure nonsense. The money will simply be used for the same purpose by other states. Meanwhile, Missourians who will have their benefits cut off will face home foreclosures, bankruptcies, delayed health care and trips to food pantries. Does anyone but these four ideologues really think that the recipients enjoy living on a shoestring from the federal government for weeks on end? They don’t. Most of them are older workers who are desperate to work and can’t get hired. Many of them have health problems are are at risk of becoming uninsured, if they aren’t already.
Remember these names, people. Kraus, Schaaf, Nieves and Lembke.
Remember that Kraus glibly said from the Senate floor that he sees lots of jobs advertised on the Internet, so what’s the problem?
Remember that Lembke said the unemployed need to “get off their backsides and get a job.” Remember that Nieves happily reported on his Twitter account that he and Lembke were “enjoying cigars and port in my office,” as they celebrated their ability to bring the Senate to a halt.
Kraus, Schaaf, Nieves and Lembke. They live in a smug reality that looks down on ordinary people and their struggles. All four of them were elected to the Senate in November. Four years is a long time to wait, but voters in Missouri should not pass up on the opportunity then to show these four what unemployment looks like.