OpenCongress Blog

Blog Feed Comments Feed More RSS Feeds

What's Been Happening With the Unemployment Extension Bill?

July 15, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

UPDATE: New info on what’s happening Tuesday — click here to see the update.

With all the work that’s been going on in the Senate this week on financial reform, the small business lending bill and other things, it may seem like the Democrats are doing nothing on the unemployment insurance bill while they wait for an interim senator from West Virginia to be announced. But that’s not the case. On Tuesday and Wednesday this week, Senate Dems executed two important procedural actions that will ensure that when the new senator is seated and they can take up the bill, they can take the quickest route possible under Senate rules to get it passed.

Here’s what those actions look like in the Congressional Record — From Tuesday:

And from Wednesday:

So, why is Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse [D, RI] calling asking for a second reading of the unemployment extension bill and objecting to his own request in the same sentence, and why is Sen. Harry Reid [D, NV] objecting to any further proceedings with the bill?

The answer, of course, is that they are using Senate Rule XIV to skip the committee process and put the bill directly on the Senate calendar for floor consideration. Paragraph 4 of that rule states that "every bill and joint resolution introduced on leave, and every bill and joint resolution of the House of Representatives which shall have received a first and second reading without being referred to a committee, shall, if objection be made to further proceeding thereon, be placed on the Calendar.” So, Senator Whitehouse first objected to having the second reading occur on the same day as the first in order to avoid automatic committee referral under Paragraph 3 of the rule, and then Reid objected to further proceeding of the bill because, under Paragraph 4, the next motion in order after the second reading would have been referring the bill to committee. The acting Senate President followed suit and placed the bill on the calendar for consideration under the requirements of Rule XIV.

As you know, under regular order, bills must be approved by a committee before they can be considered on the floor. The Senate could have followed regular order and brought up one of their own unemployment insurance bills that has been cleared by committee. H.R. 4213, for example, was cleared by the Senate Finance Committee on March 1st. But that bill is different than the one that was passed by the House on July 1st (H.R. 5618), so it would have to be reconciled with the House-passed bill before it could be signed into law. The reconciled version would also have to go back for an extra vote in both the Senate and House to make sure that both chambers did, in fact, pass the same exact version of the bill.

In order to avoid those extra steps, Senate Dems are moving forward with the bill passed by the House on July 1st. But there is a trade-off here — H.R. 5618 does not include the extra $25 per week from the Federal Additional Compensation program (FAC) that was initiated in the 2009 stimulus bill. That program would be terminated under the bill passed by the House on July 1st, but it would be extended under H.R.4213. In other words, Senate Dems have chosen to sacrifice the extra $25 per week in order to get this bill done and signed into law a few days — or even a week or more — sooner.

As you can see on the Senate Democrats calendar, the new West Virginia senator is now scheduled to be sworn in at 2:15 p.m. E.T. on Tuesday, and then immediately after, at 2:30, they will begin voting on the unemployment extension bill. That vote will be on a motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed. Once that passes, a cloture motion on the bill itself will be in order for Thursday morning. After that the bill has to be voted on within 30 hours, so, by Friday afternoon, though it is common for the minority party to allow the vote on the bill to take place immediately after the vote on cloture (for example, that’s what happened today on financial reform conference report). For more detailed info on these procedural steps, see this blog post.

Bottom line: once the interim WV senator is sworn in, and barring any surprising last-minute defections, the Democrats will have the 60 votes they need to break any Republican attempt to stop the bill from passing, and they will be able to do it by the end of the week.

P.S. — since I know folks will be asking: no, the bill will not create additional weeks of benefits beyond the tiers that Congress let expire on June 2. Ninety-nine weeks will still be the maximum benefits period available. That means that after November 30, when this bill is set to sunset, anyone receiving benefits will no longer be eligible to move into the next tier after their current tier expires.

P.P.S. The bill will pay back benefits retroactively for however long you have been without your cheques due to congressional inaction.


Like this post? Stay in touch by following us on Twitter, joining us on Facebook, or by Subscribing with RSS.


Displaying 31-60 of 98 total comments.

  • Comm_reply
    jgpt777 07/15/2010 7:49pm

    Good point Mike,

    at least there given us till November…Im shure something will happen,,like a 5th tier

  • Comm_reply
    Kerlynne 07/15/2010 8:48pm

    MIKES1LAKERFAN>>> exactly!! As much as I want this extension… it is only good till Nov 2010 and then what?? PLUS they took away our $25 a week stimulus. I don’t understand why that isn’t making a difference to everyone. That is $100 bucks that puts food on the table for me. This extension is a band aid and isn’t anything like we need.

  • Comm_reply
    FEDupWITHtheFED 07/16/2010 4:57am

    I would rather lose 25 bucks then the rest of the check!!

  • Comm_reply
    understanding 07/16/2010 5:08am

    Downandout, it looks like a bit of shaking isn’t going to get things going either.

    I was so pissed this morning reading an article from Sen. Mitch McConnell, saying that President Obama takes too many golf breaks and is out of touch. McConnell must have fired off this press release just before he gathered up his golf clubs for a three-day weekend.

  • Comm_reply
    ladbjangles 07/16/2010 6:00am

    I agree!

  • Comm_reply
    ladbjangles 07/16/2010 6:01am

    Has anyone else had trouble with not having a voucher to fill out. Haven’t had one since 6/20

  • wtfoldpeople 07/15/2010 4:57pm

    okay I am confused, on the calendar you referenced I see a vote for HR 4213 on Tuesday the 20th.

  • codemoney 07/15/2010 5:17pm

    The PS confuses me:
    no, the bill will not create additional weeks of benefits beyond the tiers that Congress let expire on June 2.
    Ninety-nine weeks will still be the maximum benefits period available.
    That means that after November 30, when this bill is set to sunset, anyone receiving benefits will no longer be eligible to move into the next tier after their current tier expires.

    So, say someone had 26 weeks expire, then this bill passes, does that mean they will no longer be eligible ever even though they have, say, 52 weeks?

  • Comm_reply
    understanding 07/15/2010 5:34pm

    Thanks, Mr. Shaw for the updates. How long after it passes will the President gets to signing it?

    After all we have been through, I am still very cautious in my optimism.

    There are no long range plans in the works once this expires. As we see it will expire after the elections.

  • Comm_reply
    comments5647 07/15/2010 7:23pm

    Very smart observation.

  • Comm_reply
    pammyz01 07/15/2010 10:26pm

    codemoney..that is true. Just like right now. The extension deadline was 2Jun. Even though millions of people still are eligible for more benefits. They would have to vote on another extension again at that time.(30 Nov)

  • dedgar 07/15/2010 6:10pm

    Donny or anyone of my fellow unemployed …

    Does H.R. 5618 extend FED-ED? I’m a 79er who exhausted my Tier 4 extension on June 12th. However the CA EDD website states the last day to qualify for FED-ED was June 6th. Did I miss out on this extension by 1 week or will H.R. 5618 fix my problem?

  • Comm_reply
    jgpt777 07/15/2010 7:39pm


    Im in California also, and Yes…you will get to finish the FED ED.. when the extension bill passes.

    They probably gave you one wk of the FED ED…like me and it stopped June 12th.

    But don’t worry just keep filling out and mailing back and forms they send you.

    If for some reason you get no forms should call them ……

    Tip To Get Through: Call early, 8am………800-300-5616 then wait for the lady with the deep voice say, welcome to the Unemployment ect.
    Then hit 1 – 2- 4- 3 and you should get through faster.

  • Comm_reply
    dedgar 07/15/2010 10:27pm

    Thanks jgpt777 …

    EDD is not sending me any claim forms. According to their website the filing deadline for FED-ED was June 6th. I exhausted my Tier 4 on June 12th. I’m afraid I may have missed the filing deadline for FED-ED by one week. I emailed EDD and they responded today but they didn’t answer my question (of course). Here’s EDD’s response: “BENEFITS EXHAUSTED: You have been paid all benefits available to you on your regular claim and the Federal extension (s). No unemployment benefits are available to you at this time. The FEDED extension is no longer available; you have been paid all extensions possible.” I think EDD is responding to everyone in the same way … like a broken record.

  • widget02us 07/15/2010 6:30pm


  • Comm_reply
    jenny2010 07/15/2010 7:46pm

    Excellent point widget02us! Thanks to Donny and all those in Congress looking out for us!

  • comments5647 07/15/2010 7:25pm

    Mr. Shaw is this blog totally funded by donations?

  • Kerlynne 07/15/2010 8:51pm

    DONNY…. gotta say Thank You. This site has given me and others a place to learn and keep in contact and I for one really appreciate your reports and information.

  • pammyz01 07/15/2010 10:28pm

    wonder how long after its passed and signed that it will take to get our checks? Anyone out there go thru this last time?

  • Comm_reply
    widget02us 07/16/2010 12:17am

    I’ve been through it twice and each time the money was there the following payday.

  • Comm_reply
    understanding 07/16/2010 1:06am

    Earthquake tremors felt in DC metropolitan area. I felt it myself. Slight but got a lot of peoples’ attention.

  • Comm_reply
    understanding 07/16/2010 1:11am

    3.1 earthquake in the Washington, DC area.

  • Comm_reply
    downandout 07/16/2010 3:07am

    Maybe this will convince Reid that the bill needs to be passed this weekend, not on Tuesday. Just a little “shake up” call.

  • downandout 07/16/2010 2:45am

    Thanks, Danny for keeping us informed. It has been nice to know that there is one person who is looking out for us. The news is good even without the $25, which I am sure all of us need, but we need the bill passed asap so if we have to give up something at least we will hopefully have money in hand within the next couple of weeks. I, from experience am not holding my breath, but praying for an end to all of this. Again, your information has been invaluable and we all appreciate your caring enough to help us with answers in our time of need.

  • johnr2 07/16/2010 3:51am

    Well I am glad that some thing is getting done but what about the people that have been laid off since this started, the one’s that have used up all of there unemployment, the 99ers? Even that is was not 99 weeks because thay use your first 26 weeks of reg. unemployment to make it 99 weeks. I live in Ohio and we had 4 tiers of exstended unimployment that came to 53 weeks, so where does the 99 weeks come from? I am a union laborer for 19.5 years and have always worked good and my own hall has lost over 800 laborers in the past 2 years because there is no work for us. I have tryed to get another job since this all started even in other states and over sea’s, I have sent out over 400 resumes and to this day still can’t get a job. I am a skilled worker and I have companies telling me that I am over quilified for the work I am seeking, so what happens to the people that can’t get a job in what thay have done for so many years?

  • downandout 07/16/2010 4:49am

    One more thing that REALLY pisses me off about all of this is seeing the calendars and knowing that the Senate is off today through the weekend!!! Why is it that the House always seems to find time to WORK AND PASS BILLS even if they have to spend more time at it? Senators are greatly overpaid for all of the time that they DO NOT WORK!!!!!!! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, IF THEY EXPECT TO GET PAID THEY SHOULD WORK LIKE THE REST OF US WOULD LIKE TO BE WORKING!!!!!!!1

  • Comm_reply
    FEDupWITHtheFED 07/16/2010 4:52am

    I just want to know an answer to a simple question…….

    I got laid off last september, currently I have 4 weeks left of the federal extension. If our lawmakers get off their collective a$$e$ and pass another federal extension, am I eligible for it? Or will I go rightinto the state extension, only to be assed out of benefits in a shorter period of time?? I have been applying for jobs like a madwoman and NOTHING-just 1 interveiw! Please tell me I won’t be in a bread line!

  • Comm_reply
    danijos 07/16/2010 5:46am

    I agree!!! Did they not just have 2 fkn weeks off and just got back now off again for the dam weekend? WTF get rid of these lazy Fat a*** and put ppl in there that really want to earn that money they get , im sure we can put ppl in senate that will work harder than those there now for Less that would help the budget!

  • Jonapoo4u 07/16/2010 4:51am

    if someone couls just answer this: if everything goes well and they pass the bill on thursday how long before it gets signed by the president and gets inacted? we arnt going to have to wait another couple of weeks after president signs the bill for our money are we?

  • Comm_reply
    msglitzer 07/16/2010 5:08am

    I just got off the phone with my unemployment office here in Colorado and was told, IF they pass the extension, it will be an additional 2-4 weeks after the bill is signed into law before I would see any money. I have only received the initial 26 weeks, my extension (if I get one) would be for Tier 1 benefits.

Due to the archiving of this blog, comment posting has been disabled.