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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 31-60 of 395 total comments.

Jonapoo4u 07/21/2010 12:17pm

these are just amendment votes they will probably still vote on 4213 tonight at 9

Abaratarrr 07/21/2010 12:13pm
in reply to widget02us Jul 21, 2010 12:08pm

you really have not been paying attention they have agreed to a vote now, they could have required them to wait 30 hours and only count hours when the senate is in session pushing this out till next week.

Abaratarrr 07/21/2010 12:09pm
Link Reply
+ -1
in reply to dwcstmdznr Jul 21, 2010 11:57am

it does not effect us today either way, they are voting on if the bill should be paid now or if we should borrow the money pay for the bill. The extension will pass regardless of if we pay for it or borrow the money.

widget02us 07/21/2010 12:08pm

Are these idiots (Republicans) actually trying to make amendments???

dwcstmdznr 07/21/2010 12:03pm
in reply to trynghard63 Jul 21, 2010 11:59am


Abaratarrr 07/21/2010 12:01pm
in reply to mkjking Jul 21, 2010 11:59am

you can watch it live online then you are not victim to misinformation printed in the newspapers that are trying to sell you something.

BrandiWY 07/21/2010 12:00pm
in reply to mkjking Jul 21, 2010 11:59am


mkjking 07/21/2010 11:59am

Hopefully, once said and done and sent to the House, things will move a bit faster for all of us. I can’t watch the session on television, because my husband would come home and find me wearing the television as an ankle bracelet.

trynghard63 07/21/2010 11:59am
in reply to dwcstmdznr Jul 21, 2010 11:57am

We are needing No’s

Abaratarrr 07/21/2010 11:57am
in reply to mkjking Jul 21, 2010 11:36am

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

mkjking 07/21/2010 11:57am

Just read an article that states that the vote will take place around 6:00 p.m. PT, which would be 9:00 p.m. ET.

dwcstmdznr 07/21/2010 11:57am

Do we need yeses or nos

trynghard63 07/21/2010 11:57am
in reply to Jonapoo4u Jul 21, 2010 11:53am

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

Jonapoo4u 07/21/2010 11:56am

yeah my bad i though dems needed 67

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

dwcstmdznr 07/21/2010 11:54am
in reply to trynghard63 Jul 21, 2010 11:53am

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

BrandiWY 07/21/2010 11:54am

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

dwcstmdznr 07/21/2010 11:53am

hopefully a few will decide to loose gracefully

Abaratarrr 07/21/2010 11:53am
in reply to Abaratarrr Jul 21, 2010 11:51am

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

Jonapoo4u 07/21/2010 11:53am

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

trynghard63 07/21/2010 11:53am

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

Jonapoo4u 07/21/2010 11:52am

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

Abaratarrr 07/21/2010 11:51am
in reply to mkjking Jul 21, 2010 11:36am

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.

firestorm145 07/21/2010 11:51am

here we go

Kerlynne 07/21/2010 11:50am

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

Abaratarrr 07/21/2010 11:49am
in reply to mkjking Jul 21, 2010 11:40am

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

dwcstmdznr 07/21/2010 11:49am

What are they voting on?

Abaratarrr 07/21/2010 11:48am
in reply to mkjking Jul 21, 2010 11:40am

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.

Kerlynne 07/21/2010 11:47am

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

Jonapoo4u 07/21/2010 11:45am

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

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