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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 361-390 of 395 total comments.

bwcox 07/20/2010 11:31am

I will ditto that Ktula7…Mr. Shaw you have provided explanations and insight all the way through this episode…many thanks!

Ktula7 07/20/2010 11:28am

And thank you to Donny Shaw for being so informative during such a difficult time for us all. Kudos to you sir for a job well done!!!

trynghard63 07/20/2010 11:26am

Agreed we all need to keep coming back and band together. But again we somehow need to stress to them that we want our jobs back. If they hadnt sent our jobs away, guess what? We wouldnt be going through this. I want to find a way to make our voices heard. I will remember in November. I doubt I ever forget. The rich get richer by sending jobs over seas. The poor get poorer because of the greedy companys. Government can step in and tax or fine these companys. I just dont get it.

Ktula7 07/20/2010 11:25am
in reply to trynghard63 Jul 20, 2010 10:31am

May God bless you as well! I will still stay and fight for those who are still without any benefits as I hope all of us do. And I hope that all of us here make them remember the time they forgot about us!! Godspeed!!!

taxthis 07/20/2010 11:25am
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Anyone that is unemployed because of no fault of their should receive help from this united states government. My opinion is that they should receive benefits for as long as it takes them to find work. there is a system in place to help find work. Let the system work and stop punishing the poor people. I am mad as you know what and I will not stop speaking out anymore. This is the 3rd post of my life . Let us stick together and oust these fake people in government.

desperatentx 07/20/2010 11:23am
in reply to Ktula7 Jul 20, 2010 11:14am

Ktula…i completely agree!!! God forbid we fall right back into the situation. i will continue to pray for everyone. there is no way any of us can forget who stalled this and made the average person become someone theyve never been before!!

jenny2010 07/20/2010 11:23am

Thank you. I am grateful for the extension and hope companies begin hiring more. My mortgage is two months past due and I have been having to borrow gas money to go to interviews, Now I can continue my job search and hopefully land a job ASAP.

agapemu 07/20/2010 11:22am

I am happy for all of you who are owed back checks. But before you know it you will join us 99ers who have been looking for jobs for a real long time. I’m sorry to say you will probably join us soon and then what will Congress do? I thought the President was going to include us, as one of the folks he met with at The White House was a man from NJ who is a 99er. Guess he’s out of luck also. I think every elected politician should take in a family from their home state and really see what is going on. There’s no suffering going on in their homes. Vacations, kids at camp, college this fall etc. They’ll have a lovely month off and they will sleep at night real well!!!!! Wall Street and GM they bail out, but not those of us who really worked our butts off all our lives. No company can be successfull without the people who work for them but the CEO’s get the big bucks!! God help us all. See you all in November.

Ktula7 07/20/2010 11:21am
in reply to OnlyinAmerica Jul 20, 2010 10:39am

The next vote only requires 51 votes so it should pretty much be over at this point I’m pretty sure. I think the only thing that the Republicans can do now is stall us for another 30 hours or so. And if they do, I will take it personally for sure! Congress is already expecting the bill at their doorstep and is ready to sign it and then off the President Obama. It has the potential of being passed as early as Wednesday. Let’s keep our fingers crossed. We’ve waited long enough!

Ktula7 07/20/2010 11:19am
in reply to mikes1lakerfan Jul 20, 2010 10:42am

You are right…I’ll be here in full support!

Ktula7 07/20/2010 11:18am
in reply to trynghard63 Jul 20, 2010 10:56am

Agreed, I called my phone Company the other day and I specifically asked where I was calling and he replied “the Phillipines”. I even felt a need to say something to him regarding how our Country is unbelievable and that here I am unemployed and calling a California based company’s help line located in the Phillipines. I must say, it’s an outrage and needs to be stopped. I think the Companies that are outsourcing any work should be fined heavily for it! That will pay down the debt real fast!!!

comments5647 07/20/2010 11:15am
in reply to mikes1lakerfan Jul 20, 2010 10:42am

@mikes1lakerfan Keep praying and emailing congress …

taxthis 07/20/2010 11:15am
in reply to RichardStone Jul 20, 2010 10:04am

I think: I agree with you so much. These people could care less about one another , you ,or me. The games people play now,every night and every day now, never meaning what they say now ,never saying what they mean. Remember?

comments5647 07/20/2010 11:14am
in reply to trynghard63 Jul 20, 2010 10:31am

@trynghard63 I wish your post could be forwarded to every congressman. They have been the cause for unnecessary stress that certainly does not help someone fighting cancer. They all aught to be ashamed! But Praise the Lord for today’s aye voters…

Ktula7 07/20/2010 11:14am

It’s true…There is still work to be done, so for those of us that feel the victory, by all means, smile and feel relieved. But also, please be back tomorrow and the next day, and so on. There are those of us that are still due a payment and will receive weekly payments like myself. But there are those of us that have run out and are still feeling the stress that we have all been going through in these past weeks that will continue to feel unless something is done. So for their sake, and potentially ours, let us still stand together and fight for those that are still fighting, the 99r’s. They still need our help and we may be one of them someday soon. And please, do not forget those Senators that voted no to helping us survive. Never forget them like they forgot us…United we stand, divided we fall!!

taxthis 07/20/2010 11:03am
in reply to HGAH_7 Jul 20, 2010 10:02am

Yes, thank you Jesus. But please, hgah, let us not forget about Jesus when he tipped the table over in the temple when he was so angry with the moneytakers. I am not a heartless person but I will never ever forget any persons name that voted nay on this issue. I hope any person that was affected by this does not cast a yes vote in november just because they are affiliated with a party. This situation that I and many other former working americans should never had happened. thank you for your post. Jesus will not fail us but dont count on all politicians.

desperatentx 07/20/2010 11:01am

this news has turned my frown upside down back into a smile!!! lets get this done a.s.a.p…..thank you Lord!!!

trynghard63 07/20/2010 10:56am

They need to bring jobs back that were sent to Mexico and China and for the companys that out source to those countries well they need to be heavily taxed. Get illeagles back to where they came from untill they comes here the right way. This would creat more jobs for the unemployed. If they put as much energy into creating jobs, bringing back jobs as they do into planning thier vacations, our economy might straighten up! Next time you go shopping look and see how few things are made in the USA anymore. Stop the Big Buisness and company greed andBring jobs back to our country,

mikes1lakerfan 07/20/2010 10:42am

I DON’T MEAN TO RAIN ON EVERYONE’S PARADE. BUT IF YOU’RE STILL UNABLE TO FIND A JOB BY NOV 30th WE WILL ALL BE RIGHT BACK HERE AGAIN! They need to start working on a LONG TERM SOLUTION NOW! I don’t think 15 million job openings are going to be available come NOV 30th!!!

OnlyinAmerica 07/20/2010 10:39am

The bill has not been passed yet. The Senate merely voted to limit debate. One more vote for passage will take place before it goes to the House. Usually the House works late on issues as important as this one. The fight is not over. This merely extends the benfits for a few more months. In November many of us will be faced with the same problem again. What about the 99ers? All of us need to continue to contact our Congressmen and Senators and let them know that the benefits and COBRA need a more long term solution. Only a program creating jobs will have a more lasting effect.

trynghard63 07/20/2010 10:31am

Oh I wont forget! I am thrilled that we are going to get our back pay. I hate that we are losing Cobra benifits because my cancer is a pre existing condition and I have to keep medical coverage. But I am so happy I will get to hopefully get my bills caught up, buy a few grocreys and pay all of these back to school fees and supplies and cclothes for my son. Today I feel like God has truly blessed me, This goes through and I get a job offer. Its just so sad for the people who have lost thier lives because of this, lost thier homes, thier families. May God be with us all!

JobRobbed 07/20/2010 10:26am

Even though it appears the unemployment insurance extension bill will finally pass, let’s not forget how many Senate Republicans & one Sen. Ben Nelson(D) voted against hard working, tax paying Americans when it came down to our modest bailout. Thank you!

Iamamerican33 07/20/2010 10:24am

Thank you. thank you, thank you! This wait should have never happened but I am thankful we have SOME people who are aware that being unemployed in America, “The Land Of Opportunity” is a shame and realizes that this is the right thing to do for us and for our failing economy. Now, time to early vote for a Tennessee Democratic Senator.

kapachupi1012 07/20/2010 10:23am

“Unemployed Americans Rejoice!! “THE UNEMPLOYED AWAITING THE PASSAGE OF THIS BILL DIDN’T WANT A HAND OUT, ONLY A HAND UP” Thank You Thank You Jesus our Lord and Saviour and for every Democrat who voted in favor and a special thanks to Sen. Susan Collins [R, ME] and Sen. Olympia Snowe [R, ME], who crossed the lines to vote for us suffering americans who have lost their jobs thru no fault of their own.

trynghard63 07/20/2010 10:18am

I wonder how soon we cant start expecting the money. I think I was told to wait and do nothing untill I got forms in the mail to fill out, mail them back and wait..

GodisGreat44 07/20/2010 10:14am

PRAISE JESUS! PRAISE OUR LORD!! This is amazing and I’m praying for support as soon as possible. Our great and powerful God is so amazing and we are BLESSED to have someone on our side like Him!! Keep praying everyone and we will see the blessings that we deserve.

juju39567 07/20/2010 10:10am

Donny Shaw i want to thank you for your excellent reporting on congress and specifically this topic. If it wasnt for you we would of all stayed in the dark and i know for my own situation this blog has helped me mentally get through this very tough time. Thanks to all the members here for your words of encouragement ive enjoyed the discussions this will be my site from now on to figure out what these arrogant politicians are up to (or not as the case may be)

fa2010 07/20/2010 10:08am

Anyone here from FL? Need clarification – According to the Lowery article FL will not get the EUC b/c FL statue has June 5th the last day to be able to establish claims for extended benefits. However, the June 5th date is for STATE EB, correct, NOT EUC? I really don’t want to get all excited about this then have Florida screw us all out of the EUC :-(

PPearson 07/20/2010 10:08am

Finally! It is good to finally get this on the road to being resolved. It is a shame about the abandonment of the COBRA assistance. That has been a real lifeline for so many. The damage that has been done by this Republican fiasco will leave scars for years. People have lost too much while Nero fiddled. I only hope that people remember at election time.

katori81 07/20/2010 10:07am


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