Reid, in comments to reporters, said unemployment benefits had been extended several times when George W. Bush was president and Congress did not insist on paying for them with cuts elsewhere in the budget.
Any debate over paying for renewing jobless benefits is almost certain to circle back to a perennial disagreement over taxes.
In last month’s successful negotiations over spending legislation, Democrats sought to close tax loopholes to keep deficits from rising. Republicans refused, demanding spending cuts or higher fees instead.
At the same time the two parties struggle with one another, Republicans are also under pressure from outside groups who oppose any renewal of jobless benefits, including some with ties to the tea party.
Any legislation that clears the Senate would also have to make it through the House, where dozens of tea party-aligned lawmakers are in office.
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