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No Action on The American Jobs Act This Month

September 19, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

Yet another sign that Congress isn't taking the jobs crisis seriously, this time from the Senate Democratic Whip, Dick Durbin [D, IL], on CNN:

CROWLEY: When is his jobs bill getting on the Senate floor? [...]

DURBIN: I think that's more realistic it would be next month.

CROWLEY: Next month. OK.

 

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Reid Schedules DREAM Act Vote

September 15, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Congress enacted a stand-alone border security bill this summer. Now they're going to vote on a bill from the opposite side of the "comprehensive immigration reform" universe -- the DREAM Act -- that would create a path to citizenship for some undocumented immigrnts that serve in the military or earn a college degree.

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Holding members of Congress accountable is hard when you can't remember how they voted, so at OpenCongress we put together a scorecard to track how each and every senator voted on the contentious issue of extending unemployment benefits over the last two years. After crunching the numbers, we discovered a few things we expected (Democrats really, really wanted to extend unemployment benefits), a few we didn't (Republicans were surprisingly diverse in their votes), a few head scratchers (Missouri's senators were the least likely to show up to vote despite having a 9.1% unemployment rate) and at least one irrefutable truth (Ben Nelson has a whacked-out definition of "fiscal responsibility").

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Congress and the 99ers

July 13, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

The 99ers are the true victims of the jobless recovery. Yes, millions of people who have been out of work for months are struggling right now because Congress has let the extended benefits period expire, but a couple weeks from now that will be extended and those people will see their benefit payments return, including retroactive reimbursements for any payments that were put on hold. If they can find a job before the 99-weeks-max benefit period expires under the currently-pending extension (H.R. 5618) on November 30, 2010, in a sense, the system will have worked at helping them weather this crisis. But for those who are not able to find a job by then, they will join the ranks of the 99ers who, so far, have seen nothing but neglect from the people in charge of U.S. economic policy.

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Apparently West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin's chat last night with election attorneys in his state didn't convince him to go ahead with appointing an interim replacement for Sen. Robert Byrd [D, WV] before the legislature meets on Thursday. Here's the latest on the situation, from the AP:

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Sen. Ben Nelson [D, NE] crossed the aisle last night and gave Republicans the final vote they needed to block the Democrats' attempt to extend unemployment insurance. The Democrats had the support of 59% of the Senate for their extension bill, but Nelson's defection allowed the Republicans to sustain a filibuster of the Democrats' attempt to move the bill to the floor for an up-or down vote. Breaking a filibusters requires a 3/5ths majority, or 60 votes.

Since Nelson is now standing between millions of unemployed Americans struggling to stay afloat until the extension is passed (most likely in mid July) and the immediate relief Democrats are trying to provide, it's worth being aware of his reasoning. Below is a long excerpt from a statement he released the day before he blocked the Senate's last attempt to pass an extension:

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For the fourth time in a month, Senate Democrats on Wednesday night failed to win enough votes to overcome a Republican filibuster of a bill to extend unemployment insurance benefits (H.R. 4213). After the failed vote, the Senate adjourned for recess until July 12th.

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Just One Vote

June 30, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

A single senator now stands between millions of unemployed Americans and the extension of unemployment insurance benefits they need in order to feed their families and gas up their cars to get to job interviews.

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It's going to be a big day in both chambers of Congress on the issue we've been tracking steadily on this blog for weeks -- extending unemployment insurance benefits for the millions of unemployed individuals who have had their payments cut off since late May. Here's what you need to know to follow today's votes.

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Despite shaving another $22 billion off the price tag of H.R. 4213, the unemployment insurance, jobs and tax extenders bill, the Democrats this afternoon failed for the third time in three weeks to defeat a Republican filibuster. As a result, Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid [D, NV] is giving up and moving onto other legislative matters. "We can't pass it until we get some Republicans... It's up to them," Reid said.

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After consulting with lobbyists yesterday to see what it would take to win a few Republican votes, Senate Dems are back with their latest revision of the H.R. 4213, the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act. Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid [D, NV] has already filed cloture on the revised bill, and according to the congressional record, "a vote on cloture will occur on Friday, June 25, 2010."

Cloture is a procedural motion to overcome a filibuster that requires 60 votes to pass. According to reports, the Democrats have been within two votes of passing the cloture motion for several days now. This latest revision is designed to shore up support among Democratic and Republican moderates to win those crucial two votes. At this point, all indications are that it hasn't worked.

So what has changed in the latest revision?

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The Unemployment Debate Rages On

June 15, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Earlier this morning I passed along word of what appeared to be an emerging deal to take a little bit of unemployment insurance money out of the tax extenders bill in order to solidify the Democrats' center-right flank and and pass it by the end of the week. But as the day progresses, that report looks more and more premature. This PM update from CongressDaily, which I'll extract a good chunk of because it's behind a paywall and because I know a lot of folk are watching this closely, illustrates the morass of competing concerns the Senate is still slogging through:

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Why Ben Nelson Voted No

April 26, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Sen. Ben Nelson [D, NE] surprised just about everyone when he voted "no" Monday evening on beginning debate of the Democrats' financial reform bill. Immediately, speculation began circulating that he voted against the bill to curry favor with legendary investor Warren Buffet, a constituent, who had a regulatory exemption he supported for existing derivative contracts removed from the bill just one day prior.

The jury's still out on that. Nelson hasn't admitted to protecting Warren Buffet's interests. Instead, he issued a confounding statement on his vote that begins like this:

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As expected, Senate Republicans have successfully sustained their filibuster of debating of the Democrats' financial reform bill, the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010. They stuck together and even one over one Democrat tonight on a motion "to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed" -- or ending debate on whether or not to begin debate the bill itself -- which required 60 votes for approval. It was rejected 57-41. Moderate Dem Sen. Ben Nelson [D, NE] sided with the Republicans, and Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid [D, NV] voted against the bill in order to preserve his right to bring the bill back to the floor again for another vote in the future.

But the Democrats aren't giving up. Here's what happens next.

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Senate Breaks Filibuster on HIRE Act

March 16, 2010 - by Eric Naing

For a second time, the Senate is expected to vote on an $18 billion jobs bill known as the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment, or HIRE, Act (H.R.2847).

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