Gannett Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON - A vote in the U.S. Senate today to limit debate over extending federal unemployment benefits does not guarantee that Uncle Sam will resume weekly payments to 220,000 Californians soon.
Though the 60-37 vote paves the way for the Senate to consider legislation to extend benefits, which ran out Dec. 28, opponents will have another chance Wednesday to scuttle the bill.
If they fail or deciding against mounting a filibuster, the Senate is likely to vote on the unemployment-extension proposal Thursday or Friday.
California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer joined the 50 other Democrats, both independents and six Republicans in voting to squelch a potential filibuster, a stalling tactic used only by senators to run out the clock on bills they oppose. Thirty seven Republicans voted no, which means they wanted unlimited debate.
If the Democratic-majority Senate approves extending benefits into 2014, the next hurdle would be the Republican-led House, where opposition to the White House-backed measure is strong.
A statement House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, released after the Senate vote showed that the Republican caucus isn't ready to endorse the bill.
Boehner indicated that state-funded benefits, which last for six months, will be enough and urged Congress to pass House-approved measures that he said would spark job creation. He also accused President Barack Obama of refusing to identify a way to finance federal payments that would kick in once 26 weeks of state payments run out.