Harry Reid

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) (Photo by Greg Nash)

By Alexander Bolton – 01/28/14 06:00 AM EST

Senate Democrats are dropping the issue of extending federal unemployment benefits — at least for now — despite intense lobbying over the recess by outside groups targeting Republicans.

The Senate voted Monday evening to begin dealing with the bipartisan flood insurance bill, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) also hopes to schedule floor work on the farm bill, military sexual assault legislation, and several of President Obama’s nominees, according to a Senate Democratic leadership aide.

The timing of the next unemployment vote is uncertain, though the aide added that Reid could bring the issue back to the floor quickly if a compromise emerges.

“Right now there’s not any kind of concrete proposal that’s gaining support on either side, so we’re in a wait-and-see period,” said another Democratic aide.

Senate Democrats are skeptical of the prospects of a deal given Republican opposition. The GOP has demanded that the cost of extending federal unemployment insurance be offset with other spending cuts.

Democrats are standing pat on their latest offer, which has drawn the support of only one Republican — Sen. Dean Heller (Nev.). It would extend unemployment benefits for 11 months, offsetting the $17 billion cost by expanding a provision included in the recent budget agreement to extend a portion of the sequester.

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