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All-night filibuster in Mo. Senate against federal stimulus funds ends

State Sen. Jim Lembke (R, Lemay), debating on the Senate floor back in March. Lembke was one of four senators who blocked a capital improvements bill in an attempt to reject $41 million in federal stimulus funds.
Harrison Sweazea, Mo. Senate Communications Office
State Sen. Jim Lembke (R, Lemay), debating on the Senate floor back in March. Lembke was one of four senators who blocked a capital improvements bill in an attempt to reject $41 million in federal stimulus funds.

Updated 1:32 p.m. May 4:

Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill says the all-night filibuster in the Missouri Senate of a capital improvements bill containing federal stimulus funds was "political theatrics."

McCaskill, a Democrat, says she understands that the four Republican Senators are trying to send a message to Washington, and that message has been received loud and clear.

"The people that they're really filibustering against are the people of Missouri, because those projects that are funded are creating jobs," McCaskill said. "Our economy is recovering and most importantly it's funding public education in Missouri."

Updated:  7:00 a.m. May 4:

A group of four Republican senators have ended their all-night filibuster of a capital improvements bill that contains more than $465 million in federal stimulus funds.

They began blocking the bill Tuesday afternoon after their attempt to shrink the bill by $41 million was rebuffed by the Senate.

But they agreed to sit down after a compromise was reached in which around $14.4 million dollars for weatherization of homes would be sent back to Washington.  State Senator Jim Lembke (R, Lemay) led the filibuster.

“I think the taxpayers of Missouri and our nation lost tonight," Lembke said.  "If there is any success out of this, it is that we are sending, and will continue to send, a message to the federal government, ‘quit spending money you don’t have.’”

Lembke says they ended the filibuster when it became apparent that most Senate Republicans wanted to spend federal stimulus money on projects in their home districts.

The Senate passed the bill 20 to 8, which now goes to the Missouri House.  Both chambers have to agree on a final version before session ends next week. 


(Updated:  5:25 a.m.)

The Missouri Senate is again at ease, as GOP leaders make another attempt to negotiate an end to the filibuster.

(Updated:  4:10 a.m.)

The filibuster has resumed.

(Updated: 3:50 a.m., 5/4/11)

The Missouri Senate is standing at ease, while GOP leaders and the four Republicans conducting the filibuster try to negotiate an end to the impasse.

(Original story)

The battle over using federal stimulus funds to meet state needs is back on again in the Missouri Senate.

This time, the dispute could actually threaten the passage of next year’s state budget.

The same four Republican Senators who spent a month blocking extended unemployment benefits, Jim Lembkeof Lemay, Brian Nievesof Washington, Will Krausof Lee’s Summit and Rob Schaafof St. Joseph are conducting a filibuster againstlegislation that funds capital improvement projects and repairs to state buildings.

The bill contains more than $465 million in federal stimulus funds.  The four threatened to block the bill unless Senate leaders allowed them to offer amendments to remove at least $41 million.

“If these amendments are not approved, House Bill 18 is gonna be talked about and talked about, I mean, for hours and hours and hours,” Nieves said during Senate debate.  “There’s a strong possibility that House Bill 18 will die, and that all of the funding in House Bill 18 will be gone.”

But the first attempt to approve one of the amendments was shot down, and the filibuster began.

The four senators say accepting federal stimulus funds extends the national debt, and that they’re prepared to keep Senate business tied up for the rest of the week.  That could possibly prevent the passage of the state budget by the legally-mandated 6:00 p.m. Friday deadline.

Fellow RepublicanKurt Schaeferof Columbia chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee.  He says turning away federal dollars could result in job loss and weaken the state’s economy. 

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.