Senate Republicans on Tuesday blocked the advance of legislation to extend long-term unemployment benefits to 1.3 million Americans who lost them in December when the program expired.
The bill failed 55-45 in a procedural vote that required 60 votes to pass. Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., voted in favor of advancing the legislation, and Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., voted against it.
Republicans also rejected an offer by Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., that would have allowed proposed amendments to the legislation. GOP leaders were unhappy that each amendment would have required 60 votes to pass while the final bill would have required 51. Democrats have a 55-seat majority in the 100-member chamber.
Earlier in the day, Coats introduced an amendment that would prohibit jobless benefits for applicants who fail to accept any offer of suitable work or refuse to apply for suitable work referred to them by state employment agencies.
Robots used in drug wars at border with Mexico
The U.S. Border Patrol unveiled one of its weapons Tuesday in the war on drugs: Three wireless camera-equipped robots that let border agents remotely navigate the tunnels and storm drainage systems that smugglers use to sneak drugs, guns and people across the border.
The agency is using the devices to keep agents out of harm’s way, as many tunnels can be poorly built and possibly collapse and lack proper ventilation. The 12-pound robots also let agents navigate an underground labyrinth in a fraction of the time it would take an agent to explore the tunnel. And the devices can be used in tunnels and pipes where agents can’t fit.
Blue meth being sold in New Mexico
Reality in the illegal drug world is mimicking fiction.
Kevin Abar, assistant special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in New Mexico, says distributors are selling methamphetamine tinted blue in the Four Corners region.
That mirrors AMC’s hit drama Breaking Bad, which depicted an Albuquerque-based meth operation that cooked up the drug with a blue hue.
But he says the blue meth being sold makes people sick. He says it has been cut with chemicals to make it blue and is not the pure product portrayed on Breaking Bad.
Abar says agents also have stumbled upon red-colored meth.
Judge ends gay marriage ban in Oklahoma
A federal judge has struck down Oklahoma’s gay marriage ban, ruling that it violates the U.S. Constitution.
U.S. District Judge Terrence Kern handed down the ruling Tuesday in a lawsuit filed by two same-sex couples. Kern’s ruling was immediately suspended pending appeal, meaning gay marriages won’t immediately happen in Oklahoma.
The gay couples had sued for the right to marry and to have a marriage from another jurisdiction recognized in Oklahoma.