In a sprint on Tuesday night, the US Senate passed a 30 day extension of federal unemployment insurance benefits, then raced it to the White House for President Obama’s signature.
The passage and enactment of the legislation means that state agencies can begin sending checks to thousands of unemployed Americans who were in danger of losing their benefit if Congress did not act.
Groups involved with unemployment issues believe passage of the extension may have allowed some states enough time to cut checks for those who are already eligible to receive the extended benefits. Cheap Jerseys free shipping However, if an individual is about to exhaust their final tier or extended benefits, this will not help them.
“This does not add more weeks of benefits, it just extends the deadline in which people can qualify for either Emergency Unemployment Compensation or extended benefits,” says Judy Conti of NELP in Washington. (Monitor report on states hardest hit by delay on unemployment benefits here.)
The 30 day extension of the benefits will cost the federal government about $10 billion.
The battle over how or whether to pay for it became a focal point in the Senate especially for Sen. Jim Bunning (R) of Ky. who held up consideration of the legislation unless it found a way to pay for it. Congress has already passed legislation requiring it to pay for any new spending, but it waived that requirement for the unemployment legislation.
“The short term extension of expiring provisions is designated emergency spending because in economic downturns of this magnitude the Senate has traditionally treated extraordinary assistance to the unemployed as an emergency,” writes Regan Lachapelle, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D), in an email.
Sen. Bunning wanted to pay for the extension by removing part of a tax credit the paper industry receives for wood pulp used to provide bio fuels to power plants. The product is called “black liquor.” But even before the vote, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) of Calif. raised a budget point of order against the Bunning amendment. The Senate voted not to allow a vote on the Bunning amendment, prompting the Kentucky Republican, on his web site, to accuse the Democrats of a “procedural gimmick.”
Bunning didn’t have the votesHowever, writes Ms. Lachapelle, “He simply did not have the votes needed to allow his amendment to move forward.”
For many unemployed, the passage of the extension became a passion. (Monitor reports on record numbers of long term unemployed here.)
She says there is now some relief for people whose benefits would have stopped, but there is also concern that Congress take up the long term extension of unemployment benefits. That is part of a bill introduced by Sen. Reid on Monday. Ms. Lachapelle expects it will pass Congress next week.
“The bill passed [Tuesday night] by the Senate will extend access to healthcare benefits for workers who have lost their jobs, help small businesses get loans so they can grow and hire, and extend unemployment insurance benefits for millions of Americans who are looking for work,” President Obama said in a statement. “I’m grateful to the members of the Senate on both sides of the aisle who worked to end this roadblock to relief for America’s working families.”