Illinois’ U.S. senators are split when it comes to extending emergency unemployment benefits. U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) was one of 60 “yes” votes on Tuesday that warded off a potential filibuster. The measure would reinstate benefits for 81,000 people in Illinois who have exhausted their 26 weeks of benefits from the state. Those benefits were lost when Congress didn’t renew the program last year. Durbin says that has hurt families that were already struggling.
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“This is basic and it’s humane,” Durbin said. “It used to be bipartisan before the Tea Party takeover of the Republican Party. I hope there are enough moderates on the Republican side to join us to make this a bipartisan issue again.” U.S. Sen. Mark S. Kirk (R-Ill.) is on the opposite side, voting “no” on Tuesday. Kirk says the extension, which would cost $6.4 billion, should be offset with spending cuts elsewhere. Democrats have said they’re open to offsetting cuts, but only once this three-month extension is approved.