Senate Democrats managed to get enough Republican support to take up a proposed extension of unemployment benefits Monday evening, but whether they have the votes to get past further GOP opposition remained uncertain, Democratic aides said.
Republicans, led by fiscal hawk Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, say they don't oppose extending unemployment benefits - they want Democrats to find a way to offset the nearly $10 billion price tag for the one-month extension.
Democrats argue that cutting spending to pay for the jobless benefits, which average about $300 a week, would diminish the money's stimulative effect on the still-sagging economy.
"Do we have the presence of mind to do this in a way that doesn't hurt our children?" Coburn asked during a floor speech. 'We're debating whether to take from those who come after us and give to those today."
But four Republicans - Scott Brown of Massachusetts,; Susan Collins and Olympia Snow, of Maine and George Voinovich of Ohio - joined 56 Democrats in voting to bring up the bill. But Democrats are less confident they will get the 60 votes they need to get the bill through the Senate later this week, two Democratic leadership aides told CNN.