updated 2/25/2004 4:35:50 PM ET 2004-02-25T21:35:50

Scarborough Country gets a lot of e-mail from people who want answers about what goes on behind the scenes in Washington, D.C. Joe is starting to answer some of them every night:

Feb. 24, Tuesday
“I‘m in a desperate situation and things are only going to get worse.  Is there any way you can find out if unemployment is going to get extended?” - Myrna in Redmond, Oregon 

Joe says: Myrna, I talked to a few of my former colleagues on Capitol Hill and made some phone calls today.  And this is what I found out:

The emergency unemployment benefits that were enacted after 9/11 and extended three times expired in December, as you know.  But the House passed another extension two weeks ago, but the Senate hasn‘t done anything with it. 

And here‘s my take on what‘s going to happen:  The Republicans weren‘t happy about extending those benefits the first few times,  and from what I hear, they really don‘t want to go to do it again.  They say enough is enough, that these benefits being extended have already served their purposes. 

The Democrats are saying they want to help workers, but they also see this as a great political issue.  They want to try to force Republicans to take as many tough votes as possible.  After all, it‘s hard to tell a laid-off worker in your district that you voted against their benefits.  My sources tell me that it‘s more likely than not that these benefits will eventually pass in some form, because nobody on Capitol Hill wants to play Scrooge during an election year. 

Hey, Myrna, it may not be pretty, but that‘s the way Washington works. 

If you have any questions about what the real deal is in Washington D.C., and you need Joe to pick up the phone and find out, write to joe@msnbc.com. 'Scarborough Country' airs weeknights, 10 p.m. ET on MSNBC.

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