A Democratic proposal to continue long term unemployment benefits failed Thursday to get the 60 votes needed to clear a procedural hurdle in the Senate despite support from some Republicans.
It was defeated 58 to 40. Four Republicans voted with Democrats in favor of the measure that would have extended for three months benefits that expired in December.
The outcome leaves in doubt the prospects for extending the payments to people who are chronically out of work. Bipartisan negotiators have worked for several weeks to reach agreement but they haven't been able to bridge their differences.
Democrats insisted they have bent over backwards to address GOP concerns, including offsetting the costs and allowing votes on a handful of Republican amendments to the bill. They say Republicans fundamentally oppose extending the benefits any further.
Some Republicans have argued the extended benefits are a disincentive for people to find jobs and have wanted to tie reforms to the unemployment insurance program to the extension.
Republican negotiators wanted to vote on more amendments than Democrats were willing to accept and also wanted to repeal a reduction in cost of living increases for retired military personnel that was imposed as part of a recent budget agreement.
Recent national polling indicated strong majority support for extending long term unemployment benefits.