State senators who've been blocking a vote on a bill to extend jobless benefits in Missouri said they will stand down if Governor Jay Nixon cuts hundreds of millions of federal stimulus dollars elsewhere in the budget.
Over the weekend, benefits expired for some 10,000 Missouri residents out of work for longer than 79 weeks.
This extension would have provided approximately 105 million dollars in additional unemployment," Governor Jay Nixon said.
On Friday, Governor Nixon blasted the senate for failing to approve the benefits through 99 weeks of unemployment.
"My battle on this issue has not been with Missourians that are unemployed, St. Louis Senator Jim Lembke told capitol reporters. "It's with a federal government that continues to live beyond its means."
Lembke has led the filibuster to block a vote on extended benefits.
On Wednesday, he said he TMs ready to negotiate.
"We're offering to trade the U.I. money, so that those benefits can get to Missourians, for 300 million dollars worth of federal stimulus pork projects," St. Louis Republican senator Jim Lembke said.
The lawmakers pointed the finger at House Bill 18, a reauthorization of hundreds of millions of dollars in stimulus funds for everything from home energy programs for low-income families to a study about high-speed rail service in Missouri to fish farms.
"The governor needs to decide whether these ridiculous pet projects are more important than these Missouri families," Washington, Missouri, Republican Senator Brian Nieves said.
The senators said they are perfectly willing to continue the filibuster, but decided to negotiate because the governor decided to make the benefits a public priority.
None of us are changing our position one iota. This is all about making sure that the least amount of federal stimulus dollars find there way to Missouri," Nieves said.
The governor was traveling Wednesday and wasn TMt available for comment following the news conference.
Late Wednesday afternoon, his office issued a statement saying Nixon will continue to work with the senate leadership to restore the jobless benefits.
The statement made no mention of the trade offered by the filibustering senators.