OpenCongress Blog

Blog Feed Comments Feed More RSS Feeds

On Tuesday afternoon, Democrats called on the Senate to pass the Unemployment Insurance Stabilization Act under the expedited unanimous consent procedure. As expected, Sen. Scott Brown [R, MA], acting on behalf of all Republicans, objected and will force a full-fledged debate on the issue that will likely last several weeks and be rolled together with unrelated tax issues. Federal unemployment benefits expire today for millions of long-term unemployed workers.

Read Full Article Comments (97)
 

Reading the Bill

August 26, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Sen. Max Baucus [D, MT] probably did more to craft the health care bill than just about anybody else in Congress. Still, he's catching flack for saying at a townhall meeting last week in Montana that he never actually read the full thing.

Click through for our take -- it might be a small surprise -- or bop over to our micro-publshing account to see what happened over the weekend.

Read Full Article Comments (4)
 

The Shrinking Unemployment Bill

June 17, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Once again, Democrats are downsizing H.R. 4213, the unemployment insurance/tax extenders bill, in order to lessen its impact on the deficit and round up the support to pass it. The bill has been floundering in the Senate for weeks, and yesterday, it officially stalled out after the Democrats failed 45-52 to overcome an important procedural hurdle requiring 60 votes to pass.

According to Sen. Max Baucus [D, MT] and the Senate Finance Committee, these are the big changes in the revised bill:

Read Full Article Comments (43)
 

Senate Democrats are honing in on a compromise for moving forward with the jobs/tax extenders bill. According to Congress Daily, the plan is to soften a provision raising taxes on hedge fund managers who have been paying discount rates due to a loophole in the tax code. Unemployed workers whose health care subsidies were cut during the House's work on the bill would not see any gains under the new compromise.

Read Full Article Comments (7)
 

House Passes Scaled-Back Jobs Bill

May 28, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

After cutting COBRA health care benefits for the unemployed and Medicaid funds for states with budget problems, the House has finally passed their economic recovery bill, the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010.

But they are a day late. The Senate adjourned this afternoon and won't be back to vote on the bill until Monday, June 7. The current unemployment benefits extension that was approved by Congress in April is set to expire on June 2. According to the Department of Labor, more than 300,000 unemployed people will exhaust their current tier of benefits and be left without a lifeline by the time the Senate gets back to take up the bill.

Read Full Article Comments (17)
 

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.

Read Full Article Comments (5)
 

The New York Times reveals the next embarrassing mistake with the Democrats' drafting of the health care bill:

It is often said that the new health care law will affect almost every American in some way. And, perhaps fittingly if unintentionally, no one may be more affected than members of Congress themselves. [...]

For example, it says, the law may “remove members of Congress and Congressional staff” from their current coverage, in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, before any alternatives are available.

Read Full Article Comments (4)
 

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)...

Read Full Article Comments (14)
 

Fresh off a meeting with Senate Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid [D, NV] is rewriting the Senate jobs bill, excising many of the tax cuts previously included to draw Republican support. In recent days, the shape of the bill has sparked an intra-party fight among Senate Democrats. Originally crafted by Sen. Dick Durbin [D, IL] and Sen. Byron Dorgan [D, ND], the process was hijacked by the Senate Finance Committee. Sen. Max Baucus [D, MT] and Sen. Chuck Grassley [R, IA], two leadi...

Read Full Article Comments (1)
 

Senate Passes Bill Softening Tax Penalties

February 10, 2010 - by Eric Naing

The Senate yesterday passed the Small Business Penalty Fairness Act (S. 2917), which, according to Sen. Ben Nelson [D, NE] “will protect small businesses that were acting in good faith from harsh IRS penalties.”

Read Full Article Submit a Comment
 

A Closer Look At The Senate's Jobs Plan

January 27, 2010 - by Eric Naing

The omnipresent refrain in Washington for the past few months has been “jobs, jobs, jobs.” Possibly terrified of the wrath of the unemployed voter, Senate Democrats are now making progress in crafting a jobs bill.

Read Full Article Comments (1)
 

The Week Ahead in Congress

January 24, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Still no path forward for health care reform. House Democrats have a light legislative schedule this week, and they will hear Obama's State of the Union address on Wednesday. The Senate's going to be voting on a slate of controversial deficit amendments and on confirming Fed Chief Ben Bernanke to another term.

Read Full Article Submit a Comment
 

Bloomberg reports that the health care bill reported out of the Senate Finance Committee (S. 1796) contains numerous provisions aimed at specific states. These enticements could be used to secure wavering Democrats or allow senators in tough 2010 election races to tout to constituents.

Read Full Article Comments (2)
 

Finance Committee Says "Yes" to Health Care Reform

October 13, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

The Senate Finance Committee -- the most conservative committee in Congress -- has officially approved their health care bill, sending the issue to the full Senate for debate and votes and essentially sealing the deal that President Obama's health care reform plan would become law.

Read Full Article Comments (18)
 

This Week in Congress: The Markup

September 21, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

With a full plate of 564 pending amendments, Sen. Max Baucus [D, MT] will take his health care bill to the full Senate Finance Committee this week to begin the actual process of debating and voting. This week's committee markup is the Senate's best chance for finding a bipartisan compromise on a health care bill that can pass under regular procedure.

Read Full Article Submit a Comment