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Senate Breaks GOP Filibuster of Unemployment Extension, Bill Now Set to Become Law

July 20, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

UPDATE, 9:45 p.m.: I’m traveling, so a little late with the updates here, but it looks like this finally passed earlier this evening by a vote of 59-39. The bill now moves back to the House of Representatives for one more vote. They are expected to hold that vote tomorrow and the bill will most likely be signed into law tomorrow as well.

UPDATE, 5:45 p.m.: The Senate is voting right now on 5 Republican amendments to the bill and will vote on final passage of the bill after these votes. None of the amendments are expected to pass. Under Senate rules, the final vote on passage must happen before 9 p.m. this evening. You can follow along with the votes live on C-SPAN 2.

Original post below…

After 6 weeks of failure and delay, the Senate this afternoon finally voted to end a Republican filibuster of the unemployment insurance extension bill, allowing it to move forward towards final passage and becoming law. The Senate still has to take one more vote on the bill, but the motion they passed this afternoon was the big hurdle that, until now, they had been unable to overcome. The bill is now virtually guaranteed to be signed into law this week.

Sen. Carte Goodwin [D, WV], West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin’s pick for replacing the late Sen. Robert Byrd [D, WV], was sworn-in just moments before the Senate voted on the motion to end the Republican filibuster, and he provided Democrats with the 60th vote they needed to pass it. One Democrat, Sen. Ben Nelson [D, NE], voted with Republicans against the motion, and two Republicans, Sen. Susan Collins [R, ME] and Sen. Olympia Snowe [R, ME], crossed the aisle to vote with the Democrats.

Under Senate rules, a vote on pasage of the bill itself must now occur within 30 hours. The vote on passage requires a simple majority of 51 “ayes” to pass, not 60 like the motion to break the filibuster. Since the Democrats have just shown that they have more than 51 votes for the bill, the Republicans may agree to letting the final vote happen before the 30-hour clock has completely run out.

What’s in the Bill?

This bill, H.R. 4213, began as a $141 billion, 426-page omnibus package of stimulus spending, tax measures, unemployment insurance and more. But what the Senate voted to move forward with today (S. Amdt. 4425) is revision of the bill that whittles it down to $34 billion, 13 pages and includes only one substantial item — an extension of unemployment insurance for people who have been out of work for 6 months or longer. You can even see this change reflected in the title of the bill. It was originally called — somewhat awkwardly — the “American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act.” It has now been renamed simply the “Unemployment Compensation Extension Act.”

The filing deadline for unemployment insurance benfits expired on June 2nd; this bill would extend that deadline until November 30, 2010, allowing unemploed individuals who exhaust their current tier of benefits, or who have exhausted their last tier since June 2nd, can file to move into the next tier of benefits.

The bill also provides for benefits to be paid back retroactively for people who have seen their payments cut off since the filing deadline expired on June 2.

Additionally, it includes an extension of the closing deadline for the first-time homebuyers tax credit, but that provision is redundant with a bill that was signed into law on July 2nd (H.R. 5623). There are also three revenue-raiser provisions in the bill — changes to the Travel Promotion Act, cracking down on tax fraud committed by prisoners, and recessions from the Defense Department budget. These are three provisions are estimated to raise $146 million over the next ten years and generally non-controversial. You can read more about them here.

What’s Not in the Bill?

Tier V — The bill would not create additional weeks of unemployment benefits. 99 weeks (Tier IV) would still be the maximum amount of a time a person could receive benefits for in states with high unemployment rates, and 86 weeks (Tier III) would still be the max in states with low unemployment rates.

Federal Additional Compensation Program — This stimulus program, which provided an extra $25 per week in unemployment benefits payments, would not be extended under the bill. That means that all retroactive payments would be for $25 less than what they were before June 2nd, as will all payments in new tiers.

COBRA — These benefits for helping unemployed people pay for health insurance were dropped from the bill in a previous iteration. They will not be extended in this bill and there is no plan to extend them during this session of Congress.

What Happens Next?

As I mentioned above, the Senate will take one more vote on the bill within the next 30 hours. Once that passes, they will send it over to the House of Representatives, which will vote on agreeing to the Senate’s changes to the bill. The House already has that vote on their schedule for the week, and it is expected to pass easily. After that, the bill will be enrolled and sent to President Obama for his signature. That could happen by the end of the week, possibly even as soon as Wednesday afternoon.

Once the bill is law, state labor departments will immediately begin implementing it and sending out payments. As Annie Lowrey at the Washington Independent explains, these agencies are already preparing for the law, but the combination of high unemployment and uncertainty over what Congress will do with the benefits has given them a real logistical headache and may cause some hiccups in implementation.

To find and share information on how this bill is being implemented in your state, see the Benefit Wiki project on OpenCongress.

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Displaying 331-360 of 395 total comments.

  • Jonapoo4u 07/21/2010 11:24am

    eventually we’re going to have to go to war with china so we dont have to pay them

  • Comm_reply
    Kerlynne 07/21/2010 11:25am

    LOL…………. god let’s hope not

  • Kerlynne 07/21/2010 11:31am

    is he reading the paper? Al? OMG

  • trynghard63 07/21/2010 11:32am

    Maybe we should go to war with this government and give this country back to the hard working americans and away from the greedy rich. Thats what I want to do….lol

  • trynghard63 07/21/2010 11:35am

    AMEN Sen. Dorgan

  • ExGOP 07/21/2010 11:36am

    Way to tell them off Senator Dorgon!

  • mkjking 07/21/2010 11:36am

    Just received the following from the Washington Post: Republicans delay vote on unemployment extension.

    Right now, as we speak, Senate Republicans continue to file a bunch of motions that could delay the vote on extending unemployment benefits for as long as another day.

    This is key: It’s a reminder that Republicans intend to continue to try to block the extension, unless its costs are offset, for as long as possible. Nobody is focused on this, but Republicans actually see a political upside for themselves in this standoff.

    I’m told that Republicans are filing the motions because Senator Harry Reid says he doesn’t want to allow votes on amendments that are designed to offset the extension’s costs. Reid wants to proceed with the full vote. Senator Tom Coburn just filed a motion to suspend the rules, and Republicans are resolved to sit tight in hopes of forcing a vote on it.

  • Comm_reply
    Kerlynne 07/21/2010 11:40am

    ahhh,,, my thought as well. How can they vote on a bill when they have motion after motion has to be voted on before the bill. Someone make a motion to get us our extra $25 bucks back!!!

  • Comm_reply
    mkjking 07/21/2010 11:40am

    Here is the last part of this article.

    “Republicans are declaring an all-out war on unemployed Americans,” Reid spokesman Jim Manley emails. “Even though Democrats have the votes to give unemployed workers the safety net they deserve, Republicans are callously delaying the vote for an entire day. There are people literally waiting for this assistance to buy food and pay their bills while they search for work. Why should they suffer for another day?”

    I’m going to say this again: While it’s unanimously assumed that Dems hold all the political cards in this standoff, Republicans have their own strategy here. They believe that while Dems can milk this for short term advantage, over time any discussion of “chronic” joblessness — a term you’ll hear more often — draws attention to the failure of Dem economic policies and feeds the GOP’s larger critique of the inefficacy of the Dems’ big spending ways.

  • Comm_reply
    Abaratarrr 07/21/2010 11:48am

    that article is total BS, once Reid asked for a vote there was no objection. they are not forcing them to wait the 30 hours.

    We all watched it live about 20 minutes ago.

  • Comm_reply
    Abaratarrr 07/21/2010 11:49am

    you can watch for you self. they are reviewing the amendments then voting on the bill.

  • Comm_reply
    Abaratarrr 07/21/2010 11:51am

    again BS reid asked that debate be limited to 40 minutes from each party and said that the Republicans could use some of the democrat time if they wanted it. The republicans agreed, it would have only taken one senator to demand they wit the 30 hours.

  • Comm_reply
    Abaratarrr 07/21/2010 11:53am

    correction 20 minutes from each party but reid said the republicans could use democrat time to speed things along.

  • Comm_reply
    Abaratarrr 07/21/2010 11:57am

    reid agreed that they could vote on 4 amendments and the republicans agreed.

    Coburn filed a motion to suspend the rule so that the amendments could be voted on immediately.

    you can watch this live at

  • Jonapoo4u 07/21/2010 11:40am

    dorgon is the man you tell them shame shame oh if any of you has seen Idiocracy I believe that this may be how it starts

  • trynghard63 07/21/2010 11:41am

    Oh my goodness…… this is entirely to much!Im thinking it is a good thing im not in Washington

  • Abaratarrr 07/21/2010 11:42am

    I truly believe that the sunlight foundation (people that run opencongress) truly makes a difference in the way the senate operates, it was in the press earlier today that the republicans were going to make them wait the hole 30 hours before they could vote but when the genneral public got wend of how things work in the senate thanks to the sunlight foundation, reid called for a vote and no republican objected.

    Slowly but surly the the information exchanges on the internet are changing the face of politics, they could not play partisan games for the sole purpose of blaming the other party today because to many people are paying attention.

    thank you sunlight foundation.

  • Jonapoo4u 07/21/2010 11:45am

    hahaha dorgan just called them out on the “death tax” thats one i support

  • Kerlynne 07/21/2010 11:47am

    outstanding using Will Rogers…. Dorgan you are all right.

  • dwcstmdznr 07/21/2010 11:49am

    What are they voting on?

  • Kerlynne 07/21/2010 11:50am

    didn’t Dorgan just ask for the “head count” or getting a quaram to begin the vote??

  • firestorm145 07/21/2010 11:51am

    here we go

  • Jonapoo4u 07/21/2010 11:52am

    this is bad we need 67 votes to keep repubs out of the 4213

  • trynghard63 07/21/2010 11:53am

    Next election I am so sure session and shelby wont be holding an office.

  • Comm_reply
    dwcstmdznr 07/21/2010 11:54am

    Hope not, I’m planning to retire to Alabama in the near future

  • Jonapoo4u 07/21/2010 11:53am

    this is a vote on to block repubs from trying to amend the bill before the vote

  • Comm_reply
    trynghard63 07/21/2010 11:57am

    I love living in Alabama and these guys need to gooo!

  • dwcstmdznr 07/21/2010 11:53am

    hopefully a few will decide to loose gracefully

  • BrandiWY 07/21/2010 11:54am

    I understood it as they need 67 votes to be allowed to make amendments (republican’ts).

  • Jonapoo4u 07/21/2010 11:55am

    they’ve held firm so far i dont see this passing and then they will water the bill till it is no longer viable to the working or middle class or atleast make the dems pay for it with stim money

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