Political notebook

Brown bill would extend jobless benefits

June 30, 2010

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WASHINGTON — Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts is planning to introduce legislation today aimed at extending unemployment assistance for the long-term jobless, funding summer jobs, and providing more Medicaid funding to states.

His plan would pay for the additional spending using unspent stimulus funding, along with cuts in other areas.

“There are some programs in that legislation that are important to Massachusetts during this economic crisis,’’ Brown, a Republican, says in a video message he is planning to release this morning. “But we need to find a way to pay for them.’’

Brown has come under increasing pressure from Massachusetts advocates, unions, and unemployed residents for continuing to block efforts by Senate Democrats to extend unemployment benefits. Senate Democrats have failed to pass the measure three times, scaling it back each time, but Brown has joined Republican filibusters to block it.

“It’s disgraceful that Senator Brown is using his political leverage to protect financial elites while turning his back on Massachusetts’ unemployed residents,’’ Rich Rogers, executive secretary-treasurer of the Greater Boston Labor Council, said yesterday. “He should turn his pickup truck in for a limousine.’’

Harry Reid, Senate majority leader, filed a new plan last night that will come to the floor later this week. The plan would extend unemployment benefits and give home buyers an extra three months to complete purchases and still take advantage of tax credits of up to $8,000.

His plan does not include a boost in Medicaid funding for states, which budget writers in Massachusetts have been expecting. Brown’s plan includes a Medicaid boost, but it was unclear last night how much.

— Matt Viser

Byrd may lie in repose within Senate chamber
WASHINGTON — Robert C. Byrd, the longest-serving senator in history, often told his colleagues that he loved them, but he loved the Senate more. Fittingly, that’s where Washington will bid him farewell tomorrow, when his body will lie in repose before returning home to West Virginia for a public funeral.

Byrd’s final appearance on the Senate floor, where he became famous for soaring oratory and record-setting speeches, will be as historic as the senator himself. A senator’s casket last lay in repose there in 1959, the year Byrd joined the chamber. He was the longest-serving member of Congress ever and was third in line to the presidency.

Byrd died Monday at 92 after being hospitalized for dehydration, his office said.

From Washington to Byrd’s beloved West Virginia, lawmakers, aides, law enforcement officials, and journalists spent much of yesterday on preparations for the event.

The Senate was expected to approve a resolution to allow Byrd’s casket to lie in repose within the chamber.

Byrd’s journey to his final resting place near his wife, Erma, stretches from Washington to Charleston, W.Va., to Arlington, Va., for burial Tuesday.

— Associated Press

Clinton rejects Obama pick for Colorado Senate seat
DENVER — Former president Bill Clinton gave a challenger to Colorado’s new Democratic senator a huge boost yesterday when he parted ways with President Obama and endorsed Andrew Romanoff for the job.

Romanoff, a former state lawmaker, is challenging Senator Michael Bennet, who was appointed to the seat last year. Obama backs Bennet, a former Denver schools superintendent who advised him on education during the presidential campaign.

But Clinton said in an e-mail to Democrats that Romanoff “worked harder than anyone’’ to boost Democrats in Colorado over the last few election cycles.

The primary is Aug. 10.

— Associated Press