On Face the Nation, unemployment debate takes center stage

(CBS News) -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D- Nev., came out on the offensive against Congressional Republicans on Face the Nation this Sunday, saying their extreme partisan views are preventing congress from passing legislation important to the country. When Bob Schieffer asked the senator if he was willing to negotiate a deal with the GOP on unemployment insurance, Reid sidestepped, but he emphasized his frustration with their insistence upon attaching spending cuts to a bill that would extend the benefits.

"This is typical for Republican members of Congress," Reid said. "Not Republicans, but Republican members of Congress. The vast majority of American people believe that unemployment benefits should be extended. Never with unemployment like this have we ever even considered not extending them."

Congress is scheduled to take up the issue as early as today. It remains unclear if Democrats will accept Republican demands in order to forge a compromise. As of last month, the federal unemployment program in question expired. It had extended benefits for approximately 1.3 million jobless workers, kicking in when state-level benefits ended.

Reid also blamed Republicans  in Congress for blocking legislation on gun background checks and raising the minimum wage.

Reid's remarks on Face the Nation were picked up by The Huffington Post, Politico, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Bloomberg News, CNN, and the Las Vegas Review-Journal, among other news outlets.

The senator's comments set a hard-line tone as Congress begins legislative debate in the new year. When Schieffer asked for Rep. Matt Salmon, R – Ariz., and Rep. Peter King's, R-N.Y., reactions to Reid's remarks, they expressed disappointment with the no-holds-barred approach. "Well, I think it’s interesting that Senator Reid spent his entire time just blaming Republicans for everything, every calamity in the world, and not really offering any solutions," Salmon said.

Both Salmon and King also made clear that their support of an extension of unemployment benefits was contingent upon concurrent spending cuts.

Salmon and King's comments received coverage across the nation, in The Washington Post, The Hill and National Review.

  • Peter Fulham

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