CBS's Chip Reid Rails Against Failure to Extend Unemployment Benefits, Blames GOP for Filibuster

CBS's Chip Reid on Thursday railed against the Senate for failing to extend unemployment benefits. The Evening News reporter opined, "So who's fault is that? On the surface, it appears Senate Republicans are to blame. Led by Mitch McConnell, they killed the bill with a filibuster."

At no point did Reid or fill-in anchor Scott Pelley discuss whether unemployment benefits should be extended yet again. Democratic culpability included having one member who sided with the Republicans. Reid chided, "Democrats also have themselves to blame. One Democrat, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, voted no. If he had voted with his party, the bill would have passed."

Pelley began the program by indignantly announcing, "We have decided to start with the 1.3 million Americans whose unemployment benefits have run out, stopped cold, in the last 30 days. And we're starting there because the U.S. Senate went on vacation today without solving the problem."

Later, Pelley tried class warfare as he implied that the politicians who failed to pass the legislation were selfish: "You know, it may be worth noting that the vacationing senators make about $174,000 a year and enjoy lifetime health and pension benefits."

On Friday's Early Show, reporter Rebecca Jarvis sounded a similar theme: "In Washington, for the third week in a row, Congress refused to extend jobless benefits for more than a million long-term unemployed, those out of work for more than six months. Then, lawmakers recessed for the holiday weekend."

A transcript of the July 1 Evening News segment follows:

SCOTT PELLEY: We have decided to start with the 1.3 million Americans whose unemployment benefits have run out, stopped cold, in the last 30 days. And we're starting there because the U.S. Senate went on vacation today without solving the problem.

...

PELLEY: And as long as Congress fails to extend those benefits, another 375,000 unemployed Americans every week will see their unemployment checks stop. Our chief White House correspondent Chip Reid has been working both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue to figure out what happened. Chip.

CHIP REID: Well, Scott, the House passed a bill to extend unemployment benefits, but the Senate, believe it or not, failed by a single vote, then went home for a long Fourth of July recess.

REP. JOHN LEWIS (D-GA): Tell them as they swallow their pride that you don't care! That you don't have a heart!

REID: The debate in the House was emotionally charged.

REP. DAVE CAMP (R-MI): Democrats should put an end to this sham and pay for this $34 billion spending bill.

REID: In the end, the unemployment extension passed 270 to 153, but it was a futile effort because the Senate, for the third time in three weeks, failed to pass the bill last night and will not take it up again until after the Fourth of July recess. That means Americans who have lost their benefits will have to wait at least another ten days.

So who's fault is that? On the surface, it appears Senate Republicans are to blame. Led by Mitch McConnell, they killed the bill with a filibuster. But McConnell points the finger at Democrats, especially Leader Harry Reid, for refusing to pay for the bill in this age of sky-high deficits.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (Minority Leader): The only reason the unemployment extension hasn't passed is because our friends on the other side simply refuse to pass a bill that does not add to the debt.

REID: Reid calls that a weak excuse.

SEN. HARRY REID (Majority Leader): Democrats and Republicans have always extended unemployment benefits because it's an emergency.

REID: Democrats also have themselves to blame. One Democrat, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, voted no. If he had voted with his party, the bill would have passed.

Now, when the Senate returns in about ten days from its Fourth of July recess, the expectation is that there will be a replacement for Robert Byrd who passed away this week. That should give the Democrats the votes they need to pass the unemployment bill. Scott.

PELLEY: Thanks, Chip. You know, it may be worth noting that the vacationing senators make about $174,000 a year and enjoy lifetime health and pension benefits.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org