Senate Democrats finally broke a GOP filibuster and cleared the way for a bill giving crucial financial aid to states that will keep hundreds of thousands of teachers, firefighters, police and other providers of civil services on the job. The $26 billion bill includes $10 billion to retain teachers and another $16 billion to help states close budget gaps without resorting to mass layoffs of firefighters, police and other state workers.
All Democratic senators, two independents and Republican Senators Snow and Collins of Maine made up the 61 votes to break the GOP filibuster. Thirty-eight of 41 Republican Senators voted against the bill (one did not vote). The GOP has been holding up the legislation since early this year. Without the additional emergency aid from the federal government, states were facing large budget shortfalls that would have caused massive layoffs of state workers, adding to the unemployment crisis.
The House adjourned for the August recess last Friday, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans to bring the House back in session to pass the bill to enable President Obama to sign it into law.