Since the beginning of the Great Recession, 15 million Americans have lost their jobs. Almost half of them have been out of work for six months or more, and there are currently nearly five workers actively seeking work for every available job. However, the Senate has been unable to extend job benefits because of a Republican filibuster, which has been joined by Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE). On three separate occasions, Democrats tried to break the filibuster but were unsuccessful. And while no senator voting to continue the filibuster should be allowed to escape responsibility, many voting to sustain it are from states that have been hit particularly hard by the unemployment crisis. Here are the 17 senators from states with double-digit unemployment who are willing to leave their constituents without a safety net:
Senator(s)StateUnemployment RateVotes Against Cloture (Out Of Three)Sens. Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby (R)Alabama10.8%Three eachSen. George LeMieux (R)Florida10.4%ThreeSens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson (R)Georgia10.2%Three eachSen. Richard Lugar (R)Indiana10.0%ThreeSens. Mitch McConnell and Jim Bunning (R)Kentucky10.4%Three eachSens. Roger Wicker and Thad Cochran (R)Mississippi11.4%Three eachSen. John Ensign (R)Nevada14.0%ThreeSen. Richard Burr (R)North Carolina10.3%ThreeSen. George VoinivichOhio10.7%ThreeSen. Lindsey GrahamSouth Carolina11.0%Two (Missed vote on 6/17)Sen. Jim DeMintSouth Carolina11.0%Two (Missed vote on 6/30)Sens. Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander (R)Tennessee10.4%Three each1.3 million people have lost their benefits this month alone, and this is actually an historic step on the part of the Senate, as “never before has Congress cut off benefits when unemployment was so high.” But perhaps Republicans in the Senate agree with Sharron Angle that unemployed people are simply “spoiled” and “afraid to get a job”?