A Senate deal to extend unemployment benefits that expired last month fell apart Tuesday, leaving more than 1.4 million jobless Americans without aid, including 220,000 Californians.
The chamber failed to advance an unemployment extension measure on a largely party-line vote of 55-45. Though some lawmakers said they'd try again, it's unlikely to be soon. The Senate will pivot Wednesday to a $1.1 trillion spending bill agreed to by House and Senate leaders.
In the end, Democrats and most Republicans simply couldn't agree on how to pay for the proposed three-month extension in unemployment aid.
Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said no concessions were enough to satisfy Republicans, who demanded the measure be offset by spending cuts.
"I have to say what I think is going on," she said in a statement. "They don't want to extend unemployment compensation for the long-term unemployed."
That wasn't true in the case of Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., who co-sponsored the bill. Nevada, like California, has suffered from high unemployment since 2008 after the recession and housing crash.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., warned that with long-term unemployment at its highest since World War II, the failure to agree on an extension could put more Californians at risk.
"It is incredibly disappointing that this all-important extension has been derailed by more partisan squabbling," she said in a statement.
PHOTO: U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., addresses reporters during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on Sept. 14, 2012. Associated Press/ Manuel Balce Ceneta.