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Latest news on bill progress
Latest news, the week of October 18th:
10/24/09 Saturday. -
After much behind-the-scenes political wrangling, loads of confusion among those waiting to find out what's been happening with this bill, maximum frustration on the part of all parties involved, Senator Reid essentially became convinced Wednesday evening at 7:49 PM EST that he would have to give up on his attempts to speed up passage of the bill by a legislative process known as "unanimous consent," which can limit time for debate and amendments and other time-consuming procedures. At that time he made a motion to proceed on the bill in "regular" fashion, a more time-consuming path, but since so much time had gone by already in attempts at UC, it was really his only option.
At that time he also made a motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed, a process of "closing" debate on any motion. This week on the S. 1699 and HR 3548 forums there was heated debate (to put it mildly) about all the minute details of Senate rules and what those meant to the timing of passage on this bill. (The bill in question is HR 3548, but most posters have gravitated to the more populated S. 1699 forum that started revving up earlier on.)
Readers can slog through all this if they have insomnia, but in essence where we are at right now is a point of progress in getting this bill passed, even though there is no absolutely clear indication of how long it will take. After Wednesday night's motion for cloture, Senator Durbin and Reid apparently gathered enough certainty to announce that a cloture VOTE would take place on Tuesday, the 27th (so senators all need to show up on that day!)
A resident "parliamentarian" has emerged on the S. 1699 forum, Taylor09, who is studying to eventually become a lawyer, and she has had the patience to slog through reams of Senate rules to help everyone understand the little nuances of Senate procedures. I'll take some liberty to quote one of her posts about this new event:
"Tuesday's vote to invoke cloture is on the Motion to Proceed only. (please understand this). It is a procedural step to get the bill to the floor. If they can reach an agreement (on time of debate and number of amendments), prior to the vote to invoke cloture, then there is no need for cloture. If they cannot reach an agreement, cloture will be invoked and within 30 hours the bill MUST be released to the floor."
All the brouhaha about getting this bill to the floor and the Republican refusal to accept Reid's attempts at unanimous consent has to do with amendments that senators want to attach to this bill, which they know will pass, and therefore want to add all manner of kitchen sink amendments to it. (And since it is getting close to the end of term and health care legislation will probably take up a lot of floor time after this bill, they may see it as their only chance to tack on legislation this year.) Mainly Republicans, but also some Democrats have offered amendments. The Dems are accusing the Republicans of blocking the bill, which they did, and of offering unrelated amendments, which they did. On the other hand, the Dems are offering some amendments also (not as many) and they caused the initial delay by wrangling over the eligibility for all states (admittedly a necessary addition), while Reid's delay in using many UC attempts to bring this to the floor resulted in even further delay, as FrankDiscussion pointed out:
"The wait is frustrating and Reid made a serious tactical error in continuing to try to get unanimous consent. Once he knew the republicans' intentions two weeks ago, he should have acted immediately to bring it out like he just did. What he hoped would be a way of speeding the process up (UC) ended up slowing it down big time."
(Anybody else think this is starting to sound like a game of basketball or football, complete with Monday morning quarterbacking on the competing strategies? Political loyalties of the board posters run deep, but with the majority of posters disgusted with both parties at this point.)
Bottom line: This coming Tuesday unless Reid succeeds in a belated behind-the-scenes agreement for one more UC attempt, this bill moves to the floor and first will come a cloture vote on the motion to proceed, which will probably result in it proceeding to debate, then amendments will be offered. Those amendments will be discussed and voted on, possibly with more cloture limitations on number and time to debate. All these movements and the eventual bill in this "regular" process take it back to the House, where it is expected to very speedily be dealt with, provided any new amendments are completely out in left field, and then signed by the President immediately afterwards. No one knows the exact length of time, but there seems to be some consensus that this coming week there will be a major effort to get this bill and a few other bills OVER with this week and maybe into the next week. Two weeks estimate. (Don't sue me if it takes longer!)
Then we all have to worry about how long the states will take to implement it all. Hopefully since it is EUC, not EB, it will be simpler.There is still lingering confusion about what is actually in this bill, and since amendments may be added, we can't say for sure, but the core of the bill will probably remain the same as for benefits. This bill is NOT retroactive, will be paid out only for weeks following date of passage, and applies to all those who have exhausted or will soon exhaust either EB or EUC in their states. For more, please see the lengthy posts in these forums, or you can find summaries here in previous news updates.
10/17/09 Saturday. -
I haven't updated this section for so long because this bill hasn't actually moved an inch since the last update. All week we watched in agony as several attempts were made to bring the bill up for discussion under a speedy process called "unanimous consent," which could limit time for debate and other processes, only to be blocked first by Senator Kyl, then by Senator Hatch, and then a filibuster on another bill on the floor was started by Senator Coburn, adding more waiting time to the process needed for our bill. While these are all Republican senators, many are also questioning why Senate leader Reid could not have introduced the bill earlier. Some of us on Open Congress have been trying to figure out the maze of Senate rules for ourselves, since calls to Senate office aides have resulted only in conflicting versions of the rules, as well as conflicting versions of exactly what the Republicans want to accomplish by blocking the bill.
So now we also have conflicting versions of when this bill will actually be brought up for debate, or be allowed by Senate intricate rules or Republican objections to come up for debate. Some say it can't be brought up til Tuesday afternoon. Others say Monday. Confusing news reports even say Thanksgiving! (But we think those are wrong.) But at least the news media are just beginning to bring this issue up, about how 7000 people per DAY are exhausting benefits and losing all means to provide food and shelter and utility expenses for their families. The effort now is to call not only the Senators, but also as many news outlets as we can, because this is an emergency and most of the public doesn't even seem to realize what kind of damage our Congress is doing by this delay.
10/9/09 midnight Fri. -
I guess I like Chinese puzzles. Since the amendments for HR 3548 that were proposed on Thursday can't officially be added to the bill until approved (hopefully Tuesday), we have access only to some rather convoluted language about how this amendment would amend this bill, which is in itself an amendment to the original EUC bill!
And a rather puzzling part was the section that still had "13 weeks" included, even though we all heard "14 weeks" on the news. So I made this homemade attempt to actually take the amended sections and insert them into House bill 3548 to see if it made any more sense, and even though it's STILL incredibly convoluted language, it does somehow make sense now, if in a bizarre way. If you also like Chinese puzzles, you can read my construction and notes here:
If you'd like to just read the text of the amendment without the original HR 3548, you can go here:
(If this last link fails, go to Thomas and search for S.AMDT.2668. http://thomas.loc.gov/bss/d111query.html)
SUMMARY: This was posted by NoGoodOnesLeft (NGOL) recently. It's a good shorthand version of what to expect if this amendment SA2668 and bill HR3548 pass as now written:
NEW TIERS OF EUC:
Tier 2 - 14 weeks for everyone.
Tier 3 - 13 weeks for at or over 6.5% 3 month average.
Tier 4 - 6 weeks for at or over 8.5% 3 month average.
They added Limitation rules so if your state already got Tier 2 - you will get the one extra week from the new Tier 2 and then will trigger on to Tier 3 for 13 weeks and if your state is at or over 8.5% average, then trigger on to Tier 4 for 6 more weeks.
If your state hasn't got the old Tier 2 of 13 weeks yet - you will get the 14 weeks and if your state goes to or over 6.5% average you will trigger on to Tier 3 for 13 more weeks and then if your state goes to or over 8.5% average trigger on to Tier 4 for 6 more weeks.
Bottom line for individuals who have exhausted their benefits in a state under 8.5%: 14 weeks
Bottom line for individuals who have exhausted their benefits in a state over 8.5%: 14 weeks + 6 weeks
Select a state to see information for your area
- Call, email, fax, twitter, mail all governors, Senators and the President.
- E-mail form from NELP
- White House Contact Info
- Write letters to local newspaper regarding the need for unemployment support. (One resource to use for creating letters online that can be sent to newspapers and periodicals is Publishaletter.com.)
- Possible ideas if Senators and the President refuses to listen to us such as one term limit, etc.
- SIGN PETITION: Asking Congress to please act now to extend benefits!!!!!! http://www.petitionspot.com/petitions/NeedExtendedBenefits/
[Note: This list of support links was started by Hope in Cali in an OC article titled "Help for the Unemployed till they pass the Bill." It has since been expanded here on the Benefit Wiki to reach more people and be accessible to all forums through the main Wiki link.]
General support for the unemployed
(Some organizations may be out of funds, or awaiting funds.)
- Salvation Army
- Google These Suggestions:
- "Faith based stimulus package"
- "Community Action"
- Angel Food Ministries
- Charities and organizations that can help with paying bills.
- www.safelink.com Get a phone for free if you qualify.
- Worried about your electricity being cut off? Check what protections you might have in the LIHEAP Clearinghouse, a state-by-state guide to disconnection policies: liheap.ncat.org/Disconnect/disconnect.htm
- Help Until The Unemployment Extension Passes A collection of links and news items to help the unemployed who have run out of resources.
Housing and rental information
- Check in your individual states if you're a renter (or will soon be!) for the "Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing" program. These ARRA funds are apparently just now (September) trickling out to the states and may be used up pretty quickly. Looks like only the hardest hit counties, in Florida for example, are giving out the rent money, but it's $300 million going out nationwide. 
- Tenants Together
- For the more radical, but somewhat more risky approach, check out Take Back the Land
General Benefits Info
- Federal information on unemployment insurance
- Emergency Unemployment Compensation program
- State unemployment offices
- Trigger Reports for EUC and TUR
Here's what you can find on Benefit Wiki
- Information on regular unemployment benefits on a state-by-state basis
- Information on other available benefits and programs to help the unemployed get through this recession
- Tier 1 and Tier 2 Emergency Unemployment
- Updates on the latest legislation in Congress to extend or expand unemployment benefits
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