Democrats one vote short on key unemployment benefits bill

Many Republicans argue a $6.4 billion extension would hurt the economy and act as a disincentive to job creation. Others members of the GOP have signaled they might back an extension if the cost is offset by cuts elsewhere in the budget.

Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois, a Republican who often works across the aisle, got a call from Obama but missed it because he wasn’t in the office. Kirk said he wants to help people but insisted Congress must find a way to pay for the measure.

“I, obviously, have people in my state who would benefit. The better way to go is to not add to the deficit in an irresponsible way,” Kirk said.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, is one of the four Republicans who said they would vote to begin debate on the bill. However, she wouldn’t rule out blocking it later if cost offsets aren’t added.