WASHINGTON -- Gordon Jones was dismayed.
Out of work since October 2008, the laid-off CarMax salesman in Las Vegas said he received his last $375 unemployment check on June 2 and needed Congress to come through with some more help.
But after learning of the latest complication Thursday -- failure by the Senate after three tries to pass an extension of weekly payments for the long-term unemployed -- Jones was unsure of his next move.
"This is devastating," said Jones, 53 and single. "I have bills I can't pay, and trying to get a job right now it seems for each job there are three thousand applications. You can't even get a job at 7-Eleven or McDonald's here."
In the state with the nation's highest unemployment rate of 14 percent, the failure of Congress to act carried added significance. According to the Department of Labor, an estimated 1,600 Nevadans will lose their jobless benefits by this weekend.
"This rejection is a slap in the face to out-of-work Nevadans who will soon be denied the additional assistance they need just to pay the bills and keep food on the table," said Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev.
The jobless payments were a centerpiece of a $109 billion package that contained other provisions affecting Nevada as well:
■ It would have extended for another year the popular deduction for state and local sales taxes. Nevadans deducted $933.5 million in 2007, and saved $230 million in federal income taxes, according to a rough estimate by the office of Sen. Harry Reid.
■ It would have provided state government with additional Medicaid funding, averting more state job losses that Gov. Jim Gibbons said could occur if the money does not arrive.
Reid said two weeks ago that Nevada would get the $130 million it needed, but he scaled back the Medicaid portion in a bid for compromise and it was not immediately clear what Nevada's share would be if it had advanced.
■ It would have restored Nevada counties' 25 percent share of royalties from geothermal leasing on federal land.
■ It would have extended the deadline until Sept. 30 for purchasers to close on a house and still qualify for a home-buyers tax credit.
Reid, the Senate majority leader, said the Democrats had spent parts of eight weeks trying to get a bill passed that would strengthen the safety net for people still reeling from the deep recession, but Republicans thwarted the effort.
"At a time when people are struggling to find work and keep their homes, it is difficult to comprehend why anyone would vote against helping them," he said.
After the latest setback, Reid said he would place the bill on the back burner and turn to a small-business bill that is next on the Democrats' job-creation agenda.
Every Republican plus Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., voted against the bill on a procedural motion, depriving Reid of the 60 votes necessary to move it to passage. Reid courted Republican moderates Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, to no avail.
Republicans complained that not all new spending was offset with budget cuts elsewhere and so would deepen the budget deficit by $33 billion. They proposed to pay for the package with unspent stimulus money but that was rejected by Democrats.
Also, some GOP senators balked at offsets in the bill that consisted of new business taxes, saying they would hurt the economy.
"We have done everything that we could," Reid said afterward.
He had argued there were offsets for all but $35 billion in unemployment benefits, which he said customarily is treated as emergency spending not requiring cuts elsewhere.
Among the senators voting no was Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev.
"Nevadans are hurting and I know that many are worried about losing their benefits, but we have to pass legislation that will pay for the benefit extension now instead of later," Ensign said.
"This year, Congress has passed spending bill after spending bill, none of which have been paid for, and we are bankrupting the future of our country," he said.
Jones said he called Ensign's office on Thursday. He said he was told the senator "wasn't voting against the bill, he was voting against the way they were funding it," and that he had supported tapping bailout funds to pay for jobless benefits.
"I don't care how it is funded," Jones said. "We need the money, period. I am sure I am not the only one in this situation."
Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-783-1760.