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Earlier today, Sen. Max Baucus [D, MT] brought up an amendment to the bill (H.R. 4851) to extend the extension of the deadline from May 5th until June 2nd. It also would extended the other expiring programs in the bill until June, like COBRA health benefits, national flood insurance and the 21% scheduled Medicare payment cut. Additionally, it would pay benefits back retroactively for those whose have lapsed over the past couple weeks because of congressional inaction.

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Delay Slayer

April 12, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid [D, NV] has taken a lot of slack for not being a tough enough leader. But when it comes to killing filibusters, he's the toughest majority leader ever, reports Roll Call (via Political Wire):

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Because Congress failed to pass an extension before taking off for April recess, thousand of unemployed Americans will have their only source of income, unemployment insurance benefits, cut off starting today. That's a big deal when 15 million Americans are out of work and Tim Geithner is saying things like, "[the unemployment rate] is going to stay unacceptably high for a very long time."

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No Deal on Extending Unemployment Benefits

March 26, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

As the House was wrapping up health care reform last night, the Senate was engaged in a face-off over extending the filing deadline for unemployment benefits, which is currently set to happen on April 5th.

The sticking point: Democrats want to pass a one-month extension of the deadline, which will cost about $10 billion, without any plan to pay for it. Republicans, lead by Sen. Tom Coburn [R, OK], want to extend the deadline and pay for the it with unused money form the stimulus bill.

Coburn is objecting to a unanimous consent agreement on quick passage of the Democrats' bill that was approved by the House last week (H.R.4851). Besides the unemployment deadline, the bill would temporarily extend a slew of other expiring programs -- COBRA health benefits for the unemployed, the national flood insurance program, funding for furloughed highway workers, and a delay in a scheduled 21% cut in Medicare payments to doctors.

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More than a year after Congress began their health care reform effort, it officially came to an end today as the Senate and House both gave final votes of approval to the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010. The bill amends the bigger health care reform bill, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, that President Obama signed into law earlier this week.

The Senate voted first this afternoon, passing the reconciliation bill on a 56-43 vote, with Sen. Ben Nelson [D, NE], Sen. Blanche Lincoln [D, AR] and Sen. Mark Pry or [D, AR] crossing the aisle to vote with all Republicans agains it. The House followed suit later in the evening, voting 220-207 to agree to the bill and a few insignificant changes that were made to it in the Senate.

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Public Option Still Dead... At Least For Now

March 25, 2010 - by Eric Naing

Some liberals have been pushing Democrats to include a public option in the reconciliation bill for health care (H.R.4872). The party's response: a public option can't be included because doing so would complicate things by forcing the House to re-vote on the updated version of the bill. So what's going to happen now that the House has to re-vote on the bill anyway?

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On a party-line vote of 219-212, the House of Representatives has passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that fulfills President Obama's goals of reducing health care costs, increasing choices for consumers and guaranteeing access to quality, affordable insurance for all Americans. The bill has already passed the Senate and will be sent to President Obama immediately to be signed into law.

"At a time when pundits said it was no longer possible, we rose above the weight of our politics," President Obama said after the vote. "This is what change looks like."

The bill is widely considered the biggest domestic policy achievement by any President or session of Congress since Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Social Security Act of 1965 into law 45 years ago, creating Medicare.

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Roll Call cites “senior GOP sources” as saying the Senate parliamentarian has indicated that President Obama will have to sign the Senate health care bill (H.R.3590) into law before the Senate can act on a reconciliation fix amending the bill.

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All the health care buzz has centered around the budget reconciliation process, but Republicans are starting to realize that the truly important part of the process is whether the House can pass the Senate health care bill (H.R.3590).

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Health Care Endgame In Congress Starts This Week

March 4, 2010 - by Eric Naing

Democrats are hoping that this week marks the beginning of the end of their long and tortured effort to pass a health care reform bill.

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Dems Push Longer-Term Unemployment Benefits

March 3, 2010 - by Eric Naing

A bill extending unemployment insurance and COBRA health insurance benefits for 30 days was signed into law last night and congressional Democrats are now hoping to extend those benefits through the end of this year. Amidst the chaos surrounding Sen. Jim Bunning's [R, KY] filibuster, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid [D, NV] and Sen. Max Baucus [D. MT] on Monday unveiled their bill to provide longer-term relief to the unemployed. Included as an amendment to an existing House bill (H.R.4213)...

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Sen. Jim Bunning's [R, KY] one-man filibuster came to an end last night allowing the Senate to pass an emergency extension for unemployment benefits (H.R.4691).

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After The Jobs Bill, Reid Moves To Tourism

February 24, 2010 - by Eric Naing

Has a new day dawned in the Senate? On Monday night, five Republicans helped to hand Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid [D, NV] a big and much-needed victory by joining with Democrats on defeating a Republican filibuster of his $15 billion jobs bill. The bipartisan 62-30 vote came even after Reid scaled the bill back last week by removing some unrelated tax cuts, which were popular with Republicans, and an unemployment insurance extension, which is popular with everyone in Congress.

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Whither the Unemployment Benefits Extension?

February 22, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

According to the National Employment Law Project (NELP), 1.2 million unemployed Americans will run out of unemployment insurance benefits in March if Congress fails to pass a new extension. Yet, as the Democrats pared down their jobs bill to get it the support it would need to pass through the Senate, an extension of unemployment benefits was one of the things that was thrown by the wayside.

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