To be fair, president pro tem of the Senate, Sen. Rob Mayer and Senate Majority Leader Tom Dempsey, both republicans, have tried to convince their colleagues to end the filibuster, pointing out that if Missouri refuses the funds they will be redistributed to other states, not returned to the treasury. Unfazed by the criticism of his party leaders, Sen. Lembke, who says he has never been unemployed, argued that the long term unemployed should get two or three low paying jobs and "quit stealing from their neighbors". This assumes that there are an unlimited supply of low paying jobs up for grabs, which seems unlikely given Missouri's 9.6% unemployment rate. The Missouri Senate tabled the issue for now, having missed the deadline for accepting the funds. The state still has a three week grace period left to accept the funds.
If Sen. Lembke and his fellow conservatives succeed it will do harm to the state's economy. Unemployment benefits would be cut off for 13,000 Missouri residents in early April, according to the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. Those residents will have less money to spend in Missouri stores and shops, and some of them will no doubt lose their homes to foreclosure, further weakening the state's housing market. This seems to be a high price to pay for a meaningless political gesture that will have no effect on the all important national debt.
It's worth remembering that this unemployment extension was a result of a deal made last December between President Obama and congressional republicans. In exchange for the extended unemployment benefits the President agreed to extend tax cuts for the wealthy, among other concessions. The question is: Can Missouri reject those tax cut for the rich?