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What's Next for the Unemployment Extension Bill

July 8, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Congress reconvenes from their July 4th recess on Monday and one of their first orders of business will be extending unemployment insurance benefits for the more than 2 million Americans who have had their benefits cut off over the past month due to congressional inaction. Here’s a step-by-step rundown of what to watch for over the next several days as the pieces fall into place for getting the extension out of the Senate and signed into law so that millions of unemployed workers can finally get some relief.

Interim Senator Appointed — Now that the West Virginia Attorney General has issued his ruling on when the next election to replace the late Sen. Robert Byrd [D, WV] should take place, Governor Joe Manchin can pick an interim senator to fill Byrd’s seat in the meantime (see his shortlist). Manchin has been getting pressure from national Democrats to appoint an interim replacement as soon as possible, so we can expect an announcement on his decision soon, possibly even later today. (UPDATE: Manchin today said he would wait until after a special session of the West Virginia state legislature clarifies the law in regards to the next election to fill Byrd’s seat before he appoints an interim replacement.) The speed with which the attorney general issued his ruling on the election issue is a sign that that Gov. Manchin plans on satisfying the request from Washington to act quickly.

Interim Senator Sworn In — Byrd’s interim replacement will be sworn into the Senate relatively quickly. When Sen. Edward Kennedy [D, MA] passed away last year, it on took about 48 hours for his interim replacement, Paul Kirk, to be be sworn into the Senate after being tapped for the job by the Massachusetts Governor. If Governor Manchin picks a replacement for Byrd in the next couple days, there should be no problem getting them to D.C. by the time the Senate is scheduled to reconvene (Monday at 2 p.m.) for a swearing-in ceremony.

Filing for Cloture on Proceeding to the Bill — The Senate will most likely move forward with the version of the unemploymemty insurance bill that was passed by the House last week, H.R. 5618. That way, they won’t have to bounce the bill back to the House again before it can become law. The first step here will be for Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid [D, NV] to file for cloture on the motion to proceed to the bill. This will allow the Democrats to take a vote on overcoming the Republicans’ objections to even bringing the bill to the floor for debate.

Invoking Cloture on Proceeding to the Bill — One hour after the Senate convenes on the second day after the cloture motino was filed, the motion will be “ripe” and the Senate will vote on whether or not to debate the bill despite Republican opposition. If Reid files the cloture motion on Monday, the cloture vote will happen on Wednesday morning. If he delays filing until Tuesday for whatever reason, the vote would be pushed back to Thursday. When the vote takes place, it will require 60 senators voting in the affirmative for it to pass. With Byrd’s interim replacement voting, the Democrats are expected to have exactly 60 votes for this. Debate of the actual bill will then begin.

Invoking Cloture on the Bill Itself — Right after cloture is invoked on the motion to proceed, Reid will file for cloture on the bill itself. This will be a motion to end an inevitable Republican filibuster of the bill and bring it to a vote on final passage. Like the last cloture motion, this will be ripe and ready for a vote one hour after the Senate convenes on the second day after it was filed. That means we’re looking at a Friday vote on this at the earliest.

Passing the Bill — The last step in the process is a simple up-or-down vote on passing the bill. This will be the real test of how dedicated the Republicans are to gumming up the works. Under Senate rules, they could hold the post-cloture period open for up to 30 hours. But it is customary to allow the majority party to hold a vote on passage soon after they invoke cloture since cloture takes 60 votes and passage takes only 50. If the Republicans follow Senate custom and let the vote happen quickly, the bill could be out of Congress and on its way to the President’s desk by the end of next week. If they decide to stall, it will be pushed back to the weekend or next week.

Signing the Bill Into Law — As soon as the Senate approves final passage of the bill, it will be enrolled and sent to Obama to be signed into law. There should not be any delay at this stage since Obama is fully supportive of the extension.

Implementation — State Labor Department will begin fulfilling the new law as soon as the bill is signed into law. Reports indicate that states have been preparing for Congress to pass the extension for months, so there should be very little delay in getting checks sent out. Besides extending the filing deadline for poeople exhausting their current tier of benefits, the bill will require states to pay back benefits retroactively for people who have had their benefits cut off since June 2 due to congressionall inaction, so you can expect a lump-sum payment, or a series of checks, sometime soon following the enactment of the unemployment extension bill if you fall in that category.

Lots of moving parts here. This process could move quicker than what I described here — for example, Republicans could agree to a unamious consent agreement on proceeding to the bill instead of forcing the Dems to take the first cloture vote — or it could get slowed down at just about every step. To follow along with all of this over the next week or so, subscribe to this blog’s RSS feed, or just keep checking back for updates. You can also stay in tough on Twitter and/or Facebook.

(Post updated to incorporate clarification of cloture rules from David Waldman.)

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Comments

Displaying 1-30 of 68 total comments.

  • jourdanzion 07/08/2010 9:33pm

    sounds good hope it all works but this bill does not help those who have exhausted the 99 weeks nor does it help people who have exhausted the tiers and live in a state with no extended benefits. This is still good news if it works nothing is guaranteed and is there another plan if this doesn’t work. Why not create a bill that puts everybody back to work I mean everybody gets a job whatever it is as long as it pays

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    Loriann123 07/09/2010 2:17am

    I think the reason they have not yet added tiers is that they are having a difficult time just passing the existing extensions and adding new tiers would make it iimpossible. I think once the extensions are passed in they will start discussing new tiers being added. I think the Dems might have a “Lets get over one hurdle at a time” mentality.

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    jenny2010 07/09/2010 7:59am

    To me it seems like they are working on phasing out federal extensions all together. If passed, I will be eligible for Tier 1 but will act like its my last because I don’t want to have to go through this emotional rollercoaster again. They want us to take any job that is available, but how much stability can a minimum wage job bring? To all those who say we need to resort to low paying jobs, when are we supposed to search for the jobs we were trained for? At a minimum wage job, we would have to work 12+ hour days just to make ends meet! We would be stuck at a dead end job. To make matters worse, what message are you sending to America’s youth when they see college educated adults flipping burgers? We might start seeing a decline in college enrollment and a dent in consumer spending as more people start saving their money for “rainy years” not “rainy days” because they know they can’t rely on unemployment benefits if there are no “paying” jobs available.

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    tiredk9 07/09/2010 2:27pm

    At this point I’d be more than happy to do whatever job I needed to. But, when you simply “can’t” find a job and even if you COULD you can’t find a job that is willing to hire you at $10 an hr because they think you are “over-qualified”-what is the answer?
    I really resent when I hear that those that are unemployed just want to remain so and “live” off of unemployment! PLEASE
    I’d LOVE to find a job-I’d much rather be working then worrying about whether Congress cares enough about me or anyone else to pass the UI extension bills.
    Stop playing whatever political games you are playing between one another and help this country. We the people have paid into a system to garner these benefits and we the people are also the ones who can make or break voting someone into office. Our great country has never failed to assist another country during a disaster-I don’t know what else you could call our current, economic situation. The people of this country need help-we are truly in a crisis

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    bobbybixler 07/12/2010 5:13am

    Sorry, probably not going to happen anytime soon. Manchin is stalling to see how he can get the seat himself in the future. That means the person he appoints now has to be someone the people do not like so he would not become an election problem when Manchin runs for it himself. Then you have the Blago trial, which he is probably also watching to see how “pay to play” is going to be handled. Based on that outcome he might do something different as well. He needs to maneuver toward the money so he can get elected later in November. Blago had the same problem to deal with, and see where it got him now. This has nothing to do with the bills in Congress and everything to do with Manchin’s future.

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  • cgvetintx 07/09/2010 2:56am

    Government and corporate dependency at it’s ugliest….we need to all somehow wean ourselves off that big ugly teat and kick it out of the den….

  • cgvetintx 07/09/2010 3:03am

    I was just thinking that it would probably be better if unemployed people all band together (30 million plus) form a new political party, and create a fund to collect donations to disperse to each other totally seperate from any government control, and have a convention sometime between now and November to elect House and Senate candidates in every state to run against all these corporate pandering theives who are up for election and replace them with good honest representatives who will do only the business of the people. But alas, ’tis only a dream.

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    mysteryms 07/11/2010 12:12pm

    Good idea. I know that there is a Twittermarch going on now too. But we should form a party, like the Anti Tea Party (The Coke Party?). We need to keep the pressure on congress, make lots more noise so that news media starts covering unemployment again…maybe a march to Washington (like we could afford that). How about a virtual mrch to Washington, where we organize people iin every small location from one coast to the other in every community to post a YouTube video about their individual stories about being unemployed; how difficult it is to find ANY work, and what the effect is on themselves and their family of being denied unemployment extension money. We could call each video The Unemployment March to Washington.

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  • carterpc 07/09/2010 4:18am

    we need to make sure that we elect officials who will secure the funds paid out of our paychecks for unemployment insurance. MY wages have paid into this fund for 37 years and with the long time workers there should be money in this fund to help us when we are out of work and we should not have to go through this to get help. This has been a political ploy since the start and sadly I just read what it is. The Republicans want to drive up unemployment for elections in November so they can stand back and say..see the Democrats have done nothing. What a sad way to run this country to hold people hostage to play politicaL games. our companies pay unemployment insurance for a reason and its insurance not welfare and we should not have to go through this. I used to make 25 an hour and just accepted a part time job for 8.85 an hour. So all this crap about us living in luxury on unemployment is horrible. God Bless everyone and all the families affected by this

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  • SufferingMOM 07/09/2010 5:40am

    You know i still feel no sense of relief reading this article. I have been to 3 food pantries in the past 3 weeks, now they tell me I cannot get anymore food until next month. So the few little can goods and cereal i received is suppose to last for how long? I cannot do this anymore, I am going to shot myself. I am so tired of crying every night and wondering what else to tell my kids. I understand how you are all trying to figure out how to get even with congress, i would love to do that also, but the reality is that I have no energy to fight back anymore. I wrote tons of letters, made tons of calls and for what??? I have no phone now and i feel like shit.
    This process to get back our funds seems too long. All because it doesn’t matter to them that we are soooo messed up.
    Should we burn down our homes? or do we need to pray to mother nature to give us a disaster so that they can call this an emergency?
    Thanks guys for listening to me vent.

    Im lost!!!!!

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    desperatentx 07/09/2010 5:45am

    damn i thought i was the only mother willing to kill myself!!! i have no more tears left…i feel like i need some psychological help im even getting short tempered with my kids and thats a surprise all in itself!!! suicide hotline???? i dont want anyone talking me out of it i just want to go ahead and do it!!!!! wish you the best Suffering MOM and God bless!!

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    nathanc 07/09/2010 12:01pm

    i wanted to do it too,but that would be one less payment for them,not to mention a vote.hang in there it has got to get better can’t get much worse.

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    ipsecchick 07/11/2010 11:40pm

    I can’t imagine how those of you who are parents are feeling. I do know that I’m also sitting here tonight thinking of killing myself. I don’t feel like I have many other options. I’ve been through several times in my life where I didn’t have money to pay my bills, and the collectors are relentless. I’ve worked hard to pay on time, etc. to get my credit rating decent, & I’m afraid that’s all about to go down the tubes. I don’t even have a home to burn – I’m staying with a relative. Unfortunately none of my relatives want to help me any more. I have $140.00 left to my name. And I’m so depressed that I can’t imagine projecting the self-confidence and competence needed to get a job. So I either stay on earth and try to live with no money, or I just end it. You can probably guess which one is sounding best at this point in time.

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    seanurse 07/11/2010 11:55pm

    everyone please just hang in there till later today. we have lasted this long and i for one am not going down without a fight. I know my landlord will not be happy with the news that it probably wont be till the end of the month before she gets paid. Im more worried that they the senators are all leaving again the end of the month and wont be back until sept6-7 or so. this bill must get passed this week or we have had it. Im getting depressed and feeling hopeless myself. but im going to try and hang in there.god please bless all of us with good results from congress tomorrow. amen

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    rosiegirl00 07/13/2010 12:15pm

    Please do not speak or think that way. It is so not worth ending it. I’ve been there, that mental state. I have no family. My side of the family is gone. The only one alive is my uncle and he won’t speak to me. My father is in a nursing home with dementia. My husband’s family could care less. They two brothers own their own business, one sis lives nearby and not a call nor an offer of help. Not even if you need you can stay with us. We have a 10 mos. old to make things a bit more urgent. I know how you feel about being alone. You must fight the battle on your knees. Please keep your eyes up to God. If you need someone to talk to, I’m on Facebook. Let me know. This is only temporary. Hang in there.

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    chula39 07/12/2010 8:14am

    I feel the same way. With three children its so difficult and I continue to take out payday loans and am falling farther and farther behind but trying to keep afloat. I way shocked to have the unemployment cut off. I was not following what was going on and all of a sudden i got a letter saying the week before check was my last one and almost fell to the floor. Im sick to my stomach and i’m sure my landlord is hating me right now. It affects not only us but the people we rent from because they count on the money too. it’s like a domino effect. but hang in there, i feel there is always a way. sometimes we have to rob peter to pay paul but you gotta do what you gotta do. continue to call your city for help with money food housing etc. people on welfare get this crap and the hard working people when in need get crap. don’t make sense to me our country is crazy.

  • desperatentx 07/09/2010 5:40am

    things cant move fast enough, but at least we can see a dim light at the end of the tunnel, and hopefully that light wont get turned off by all these rich people in the government who proceed to ruin our lives! i will continue to keep us all in prayer….God bless!!!

  • craines 07/09/2010 5:44am

    READ THIS NOW! If you would like all the comments of this site to get noticed in the social media HERE’S how you can improve your chances to keep the Unemployment issue in
    front of the public..

    VOTE ( + ) for each post that you feel will tell the story for the unemployed.

    The higher voted posted could be picked up by the MEDIA and reported.

    every little bit helps

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    desperatentx 07/09/2010 6:04am

    i wish the media would just come into my home and try to stay for at least 24 hours and have a little bit of a feel of what im going through and its millions of others going through it all….i want them to see what our meals look like and hear my phone from all the bill collectors….come on MEDIA i dare you!!!!!!!!!

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  • RealityCheck82 07/09/2010 6:02am

    These self righteous assholes should be put in our position…forced into a state of poverty and panic that they have no control over, and no immediate escape from. Then have to watch and wait as we screw with their lives and take food from their children’s mouths.

  • bigbufordsdad 07/09/2010 6:07am

    sufferingMOM- save your bullets for congress if this doesnt pass. thats what im doing. they dont care about us? we will see how long that lasts when homeless, unemployed, hopeless americans start cleaning house one politician at a time. at least if we get caught we will be housed and fed.

  • indimom2010 07/09/2010 7:21am

    Obama is supposed to be speaking today very soon . He will be in Nevada speaking about the enemployment on MSNBC about what they are doing to get the unemployment extension passed. I sure hope they do soon….This is just totally ridiculous what they are doing to the unemployed.

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