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Senate Votes to End Debate on Unemployment Extension Bill - Final Passage Likely on Wednesday

November 2, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

After more than a month of partisan delay, the Senate voted this evening to wrap up debate of H.R. 3548, the unemployment benefits extension bill. The bill is now set for easy passage later in the week, possibly late on Tuesday night but most likely on Wednesday.

Today’s vote actually did more than just move the bill forward, it also changed it in significant ways. The vote, which passed 85-2, was on a cloture motion for a bipartisan substitute amendment that would add two expiring stimulus programs to it — the $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit and loss carry-back accounting privileges for businesses. Both programs would be extended and bulked up a bit by the amendment.

Under the amendment, the bill’s unemployment benefits provisions would stay the same as what the Senate has been discussing for weeks. It would extend unemployment insurance benefits by 14 weeks in all states and by an additional 6 weeks for 20 weeks total in states with a three-month average unemployment rate above 8.5 percent.

The House passed a weaker version of the unemployment bill on September 22nd and Senate Democrats — in light of the worsening jobs situation — have been trying since then to pass their version as quickly as possible. But Republicans in the chamber have slowed down the process by repeatedly insisting that the Senate place votes on unrelated, controversial amendments dealing with issues such as funding for ACORN, illegal immigration and the Wall Street bailout. Democrats have been denying the GOP’s request for the votes because they could introduce new, contentious issues that would slow down the process of reconciling the House and Senate bills and getting a final version signed into law.

Last week, when the Democrats decided to plow ahead with the bill using a slower parliamentary course that would allow them to deny the Republicans their votes, Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid [D, NV] noted that 150,000 unemployed people had exhausted their benefits since the Republicans began delaying the bill. According to statistics from the National Employment Law Project, another 7,000 people have lost their benefits each day since.

Sen. Byron Dorgan [D, ND] pointed out the irony in the delay last week: “Some of the people who are stalling the unemployment extension benefits were the same ones who rushed to the starting line last fall to see if they couldn’t hand hundreds of billions of dollars to the banks that ran this country into a ditch,” he said.

Today’s vote on cloture preemptively ends a Republican filibuster of the bill and puts a 30-hour cap on the debate before a final up-or-down vote must be taken. It also means that any amendments considered non-germane will be ruled out of order. Senate rules generally allow non-germane amendments to be proposed to bills — that’s why the Republicans were able to offer amendments on ACORN for this — but under the 30-hour cloture rule, all amendments must be directly relevant to the underlying bill. It’s unclear at this point whether or not germane amendments will be voted on.

Once the 30 hours are up, the bill as amended will go to a final vote that requires a simple majority for passage. After that, it will be sent back to the House of Representatives where it is expected to be agreed to quickly and sent to the President to be signed into law. Theoretically, all this could happen by the end of the week, but it is possible that the House action could be slowed by the health care debate that is scheduled to begin on Thursday or Friday.

The two senators who voted “no” were:

Sen. Christopher “Kit” Bond [R, MO]
Sen. Jim DeMint [R, SC]

Thirteen senators abstained from voting. We’ll have that list posted shortly. Here’s the full roll call data. Ten of the abstaining senators were Republicans.

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Displaying 1-30 of 83 total comments.

  • Anonymous 11/02/2009 11:52am

    I wish they would hurry up and sign this bill. I need to feed my kids. Thanksgiving is coming and I hope we hear before that.I know there are Thousands in the same boat I am in. So Get this passed. Please!

  • Comm_reply
    Anonymous 11/02/2009 6:18pm

    Senators have adopted a procedural (cloture) motion on the Unemployment Compensation Extension Act (H.R. 3548) by a vote of 85 to 2. The vote actually occurred on the Senate substitute amendment, which modifies the House-passed bill.

    According to Congressional Quarterly, the Senate’s version would “provide 14 additional weeks of unemployment aid in all 50 states.”

  • Comm_reply
    justamick 11/03/2009 3:42am

    and 20 weeks with states with unemployment rates of 8.5%+.

    Honestly, I would prefer it to be 20weeks accross the board. The jobless in ALL 50 states are hurting equally. The rate of unemployment has no bareing on who is hurting more or less.

  • Comm_reply
    Anonymous 11/02/2009 6:20pm

    People in states with jobless rates exceeding 8.5 percent would get an additional six weeks of benefits. Currently, 27 states, along with the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, would qualify as high-unemployment states.

    Also included in the Senate’s bill is an agreement “covering the home-buying credit and an expansion of the net operating loss carryback break for businesses.”

  • Comm_reply
    Anonymous 11/02/2009 6:45pm

    I agree it is beyond time to make the needs of the people a priority and pass the bill by the end of the week. Over 2500 unemployed Americans have signed an online petition and shared their heart-breaking stories of loss and desperation. It is all the proof that you need to understand the urgency of extending the bill without further delay.

  • Comm_reply
    stewart74 11/03/2009 2:57am

    i wish they would hurry up also.i have been laid off since dec 2007 and i have looked high and low for work and now as of tomorrow we are getting our water shut off,the city i live in makes NO PAYMENT ARRANGEMENTS so now we are screwed because of all of this holdup.the way it looks they may have the final vote tonight,BUT they say that the health care bill is first to be dealt with way before this unemployment thing will pass. it still has to go through the house once again……………this really sucks

  • Comm_reply
    justamick 11/03/2009 3:21am

    I’m praying for you and your children. I hope things start to look up for you and every other person that is hurting because of this recession. God Bless.

  • Comm_reply
    okiefever1974 11/03/2009 8:52am

    i think us amercians need the unemployment extention now instead of them harping about the health plan for months are they gonna pay my bills an put food on our tables or buy my son christmas presents we beg and beg and i bet they are laughing at us because we are poor an they are sitting pretty with a nice nest egg to pay their bills an buy food i bet they will have a gift for every family member and friend but im sure we wont be on their christmas list because they dont care about us and i will remember this when come election time and i hope you all do to mabey i will sit at the post for 12 hrs debating on who to vote for then not vote at all because i spent to much time trying to decide who to vote for

  • Anonymous 11/02/2009 11:58am

    im sure we will have benefits way…before Thanksgiving if final vote is Wednesday

  • Comm_reply
    Anonymous 11/02/2009 6:21pm

    The current first-time homebuyer credit of up to $8,000 was created in the stimulus law enacted early this year and is set to expire Nov. 30. A compromise version is expected to reduce the maximum tax credit to about $7200, boost income eligibility limits for taxpayers hoping to claim the credit and make it available to existing home owners who’ve owned their homes at least five years.

  • padoma3 11/02/2009 12:01pm

    Thank you Donny & thank you all for your input & information.

  • Comm_reply
    Anonymous 11/02/2009 6:22pm

    The stimulus law also contained a net operating-loss carryback provision, but limited it to small businesses. Money-losing companies of all sizes have been pressing for an expansion of that measure all year. Under current law, qualifying businesses can apply this year’s losses to two prior years of taxable profits, obtaining immediate refunds. Businesses want to be able to apply current losses to five years’ prior profits.

    In an effort to speed action on this bill, the Majority Leader has filled

  • Anonymous 11/02/2009 12:09pm

    it will be 3 weeks before the house gets to it democrats suck

  • Comm_reply
    Anonymous 11/02/2009 6:23pm

    the “amendment tree.” There’s a somewhat dated but excellent explanation of the “amendment tree” linked here.

    Essentially, it prevents members from offering any amendments on the bill unless they are favored by Senator Reid. He has agreement from House Democratic leaders to pass the unemployment extension with the Senate’s modifications listed above, so any additional amendments would threaten to kill the bill.

    A final vote on this measure is possible as early as tomorrow. House leaders are expected to quickly turn to the measure so it can be sent to President Obama once Senate work is completed.

  • Anonymous 11/02/2009 12:15pm

    if received the 3rd extenstion will i also received this?

  • Comm_reply
    Anonymous 11/02/2009 2:13pm

    yes you will recive all the extenions dont worry your covered

  • Anonymous 11/02/2009 12:46pm

    about time!!!!

  • pf1065 11/02/2009 1:20pm

    Regarding comment by Anonymous:

    “it will be 3 weeks before the house gets to it democrats suck”

    The delay on this bill has been caused by Republican members of the Senate, so I don’t understand your comment. Are you misinformed; did you make a typo; or are you a troll? If you are a troll, I apologize to everyone else for feeding you.

  • Anonymous 11/02/2009 1:29pm
    Link Reply
    + -1

    pf yes the delay was caused by the repub. party, but for good cause. Have you checked why by chance. No because you are stupid. Dems want to fund acorn, they also want to give non-citizen mexicans unemployment. <———- really and by the way the dems could have pass this a month ago. if you didnt know they have full control of the house and senate. pretty much fillabuster proof. Dems dont give to shits about about the U.S. or its people. they want jobs 2010. OBAMA AND HIS PARTY ARE A JOKE!!!!!!!!

  • Comm_reply
    dylansdad15 11/02/2009 2:08pm

    Now I am a loss. How long of a delay can there be if the HealhCare debate becomes the priority? And if Anonymous is in so much need then where is all the negativity coming from? Pointing fingers will not accomplish crap, so how can we as a whole help them to get this show on the road. And does this mean that in spite of all the petitions we have signed and letters we have written our voices mean nothing?

  • Comm_reply
    Anonymous 11/02/2009 2:38pm

    our voices wre heard, but not by the rep.also I know you make a great point about the health care debate this week after all that is there # 1 thing, however, they will vote on this late tomarrow or on wensday for sure. the dems know how bad this bill is needed.

  • Comm_reply
    Anonymous 11/02/2009 2:20pm

    there is no good cause for either side to hold up this bill. there are thousands of people who have run out of unemployment. dont you get it this is an emergency. if your house was on fire would you like the the towns people to have a meeting wheather or not to send the fire dept,

  • Comm_reply
    Anonymous 11/02/2009 2:45pm

    No wonder you are waiting for this unemployment extension. How can you think
    that the Dems want to give non-citizen mexicans unemployment? How ignorant!! Have you seen the “mexicans” work in our fields collecting fruits and vegetables? How come you don’t do it? They are hard working people whether we like it or not. They do the job that the americans don’t want to do. Don’t be so stupid and ignorant and by the way, don’t forget to call for your unemployment check moron!~

  • Comm_reply
    pf1065 11/03/2009 5:33am

    I agree that pointing fingers does not help, but if something is not truthful, I am going to speak out. The Senators that are for this bill want a clean bill, with none of the amendments that the Republican Senators want to add regarding ACORN and Immigration:

    <<Republicans have been pushing for amendments on the community group ACORN and on the E-Verify system that checks potential employees’ immigration status.
    Reid called those amendments “vexatious,” “argumentative,” and “not relevant.”


    So feel free to call me whatever names you would like. If you can back it up with facts, I’ll listen.

  • dylansdad15 11/02/2009 1:30pm

    Thank God. I have heard of breakdowns and people attempting to take their own lives. This has been cruel and inhumane punishment. This means I may be able to afford a turkey instead of a can of spam to feed my kids.

  • Comm_reply
    Anonymous 11/02/2009 1:44pm

    dylandsdad15 , you are a complete idiot who must be listening to Limbaugh and or Beck with their moronic advice.. Acorn has already been cutoff from any federal funding and as for illegal immigrants getting benefits , you have to pay in to get it so they would have to been legally working in order to get benefits.. wake up and realize that Republicans destroyed this country and would love to have 2 classes of society, the rich and everyone else who wishes they were!!!

  • Comm_reply
    pf1065 11/03/2009 5:40am

    Hi Anon. It would be nice if people signed in, or at least added a number to the Anonymous name postings (like Anonymous123). They are confusing to respond to.

    The name of the person creating a post comes ABOVE the post. So I think you meant to call another “Anonymous” an idiot rather than “dylansdad15”

  • Anonymous 11/02/2009 1:47pm
    Link Reply
    + -1

    you and your republicans can kiss my ass I WANT TO KEEP MY GUNS,FREEDOM AND MONEY YOU CAN KEEP THE CHANGE PALIN 2012

  • Comm_reply
    justamick 11/03/2009 3:26am

    Palin is a Republican…

    And why would you want an ignorant retard as your president? Didnt you have enough stupidity when Bush was President?

  • Comm_reply
    catherine 11/03/2009 6:54am

    hahaha, you PALIN HATERS

    Palin has a record, her people in Alaska get a CHECK IN THE MAIL INSTEAD OF SENDING A TAX CHECK IN……..yeah real dumb as you beg Democrats on this site for a little 13 weeks of survival money. She has a record, the people that elected Nobama based on HIS books AND the state run media sure are smarter…… is that hopey changey thing working for ya???

    Nope you keep voting for Democrats and never forget illegals get benefits because they vote Democrat. NEVER FORGET NOBAMA WAS IN THE CONGRESS MAJORITY FOR TWO YEARS BEFORE BECOMING PRESIDENT, HIS NAME IS ON EVERY SINGLE TARP BILL BUSH PASSED AND HE STILL SELLS YOU GUYS THAT THE EASTER BUNNY GAVE HIM THIS MESS……..while they still sell you guys that Republicans are keeping you from your unemployment, THE MAJORITY IS SELLING YOU THAT CRAP. They love you guys.

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