Benefit Wiki/News Archive

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11/1/09 Sunday

Monday night the Senate followed through on the vote for cloture on the bill for HR 3548, setting in motion the next round of procedures to get the bill passed in the Senate and hopefully enacted this week. Donny Shaw of Open Congress has already provided a summary of what has happened and what to expect going forward here: Senate Votes to End Debate on Unemployment Extension Bill - Final Passage Likely on Wednesday

The Associated Press also sums it up here: Senate nears vote on jobless aid, housing credit

After an encouraging moment Tuesday night, when senators voted 87-13 in a cloture vote to bring HR 3548 to the floor for debate (FINALLY!), Wednesday continued with yet more discussion and lack of agreement needed to speed the process up. This was while the restrictions of the "cloture clock" ran out at midnight, giving more options to Sen Reid starting Thursday. One tiny ray of hope reported later in the day was that an agreement was reached about one of the amendments under consideration, one for the home buyer tax credit extension. So Thursday more disagreement? A cloture vote on the bill or any amendment may be needed to force the bill to move forward again.

10/31/09 Saturday

Finally! After many jobless Americans gave up for the day on any progress in passage of HR 3548 in the Senate, late Thursday 
(about 7:45 PM) Senator Reid essentially gave up all hope of an earlier compromise and filed for cloture on the bill AND a 
few amendments, paving the way for most likely (I hope that's not being too optimistic) vote on the bill by this coming
Wednesday (Tuesday very late at the earliest).  

For those wanting to see for themselves what happened on the floor, there are three pertinent video segments that can be viewed in CSPAN's library or transcript sections. 

1) At this link CSPAN video for Thursday, Oct. 29, at 3:39 PM starts a dialogue at 370.10 on the tape between Senators Reid and McConnell during which Reid becomes exasperated at objections to simple appointments that Reid has apparently been trying to get through the Senate. After this, at 376.01 on the same tape, at 3:45 PM, Sen. Reid makes two attempts at a UC on HR 3548 with first two, then three bipartisan amendments. This fails because Sen. McConnell now insists that they accept yet another amendment regarding the TARP that Reid explains would kill the bill because the House has informed him that they would never accept it. They argue back and forth and at one point McConnell claims their side is being reasonable, and Reid exclaims that "reasonableness is in the eye of the beholder" and then laments the suffering that the unemployed are going through with these continually added amendments. Reid finally expresses his regret that because of all this there could be no vote on the bill that day, mentioning the possibility of a cloture. This ends about 387.50, or 3:57 PM.

2) Then much later in the day, after it seemed hopeless to many, Reid returns at 7:46 PM, at 616.33 on the same tape, when the Senate appears almost empty and McConnell is not there, and presents a seemingly dizzying array of cloture motions, both to the bill and to amendments, and amendments to amendments, wrapping the whole thing up with announcing that the vote for cloture would take place on Monday at 5 PM, preceded by one hour of debate at 4 PM.

(The previous segments can also be viewed with transcripts in the CSPAN Congressional Chronicle at Senate Oct 29 (Click on Oct 29 on calendar and then "Senate" at the top.)

3) Friday morning, Senator Reid, presiding over a "skeleton crew" in the Senate, states again that the cloture vote will be at 5 PM on Monday, and elaborates a bit on the two compromise amendments on the bill (in addition to the Reid-Baucus substitute amendment), which are the revised home buyers tax credit and an amendment for small businesses for loss carryback. "If, in fact, cloture is invoked Monday night, that would be done quickly. The House said they would accept that, and that could be done as early as Tuesday and signed by the President..." This segment can be viewed and read at Senate Oct 30 (Click on Oct 30 on calendar and then "Senate" at the top.)

10/28/09 Wednesday

After an encouraging moment Tuesday night, when senators voted 87-13 in a cloture vote to bring HR 3548 to the floor for debate (FINALLY!), Wednesday continued with yet more discussion and lack of agreement needed to speed the process up. This was while the restrictions of the "cloture clock" ran out at midnight, giving more options to Sen Reid starting Thursday. One tiny ray of hope reported later in the day was that an agreement was reached about one of the amendments under consideration, one for the home buyer tax credit extension. So Thursday more disagreement? A cloture vote on the bill or any amendment may be needed to force the bill to move forward again.

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.

10/8/09 11:30 PM, Thurs.

This afternoon Senators Baucus, Reid, Shaheen, and Reed (RI) tried to pass a bill by unanimous consent in the Senate, but the bill was held up by objection from Sen Kyl of Arizona, who wanted more time to read the bill and get a CBO report on it. The new bill, a revision of HR 3548, would give 14 weeks extended benefits to all those running out of benefits in all states, and an additional 6 weeks (total 20 additional) to those in states with unemployment rates of 8.5 and above. This hold will take the bill into next week, hopefully Tuesday, but we don't know for sure when the vote will be, or if any new amendments might be attached to it.

10/8/09 6:00 PM, Thurs.

Senate Leadership Agrees to Unemployment Extension Details - Vote to Come no sooner than Tues Oct 13, 2009 The Associated Press (and a myriad of other sources) are reporting on an agreement by Senators Baucus (MT), Reid (NV), Shaheen (NH) and Reed (RI) to extend Unemployment Benefits for an additional 14 weeks in ALL states as well as an additional 6 weeks in states with unemployment 3-month averages of 8.5% or more (for a total of 20 weeks.) as part of the Senate version of H.R. 3548

As most people who have run out of benefits, or are soon to, the details have not been as important as when it will clear the Senate and return to the House for final passage. Upon contacting Sen. Baucus's office Thursday afternoon, the information they have is that it was put before the senate at approximately 4pm this afternoon under a unanimous consent request, which ultimately failed. Information from a staffer at Sen. Reid's office this information was confirmed with the additional details. According to Sen Reid's office, the unanimous consent request was objected to by a single Senator, Sen. Kyl of Arizona. As unanimous consent in the senate is the only way to quickly bypass the normal system, it must now go to a full Senate vote that will not occur prior the Senate returning from their Columbus Day break on Tuesday October 13th at 5:30 PM, according to the staffer in Sen. Reids office. Additionally, the staffer stated that their are sufficient votes to pass the bill, but it will have to go thru a more formal floor vote process.

10/5/09 11:00 PM, Mon.

NELP gave us a clarification of the process for this bill (after some time trying to get info from phone or online sources). The new bill's text (Reid-Baucus version) is here:  This is a link off their latest news item on

NOTICE that the bill we are now talking about is NOT S. 1699, but rather it is introduced as a "substitute for HR 3548," which may explain why we have been having such a hard time tracking 1699 online!

So the number to watch is 3548, the substitute for it in the Senate, or the Reid-Baucus unemployment bill.  But don't bother to look further for S.1699, though it is a little unclear if this version is completely dead, since Sen. Jack Reed spoke briefly about passing a bill on the floor today, not certain if he was still pushing his bill (only 13 weeks for those over 8.5% and nothing for the lower rate states) or the new Reid-Baucus amendment to 3548, which would give 17 weeks for over 8.5% and 4 weeks for the lower rate states. Sen. Shaheen continues to push for more weeks for the lower rate states. Passage of something is likely this week, but we don't know exactly when or if it will be amended again.

10/2/09 10:00 PM, Fri.

SUMMARY: From NELP and all other sources, it seems that S.1699 passed the Senate Finance committee yesterday unanimously as 4 weeks for all states plus an ADDITIONAL 13 weeks (17 total) for states over 8.5% (not 8.0%). The extra funds needed would come out of a longer extention of the already existing FUTA tax on employers.

Then after that Sen. Shaheen of NH announced that she would introduce an amendment that would give more to the lower rate states, 13 weeks instead of 4, and she wanted the extra funds to come out of the refunded TARP funds. This amendment is not yet accepted or rejected.

Finance hoped the revised bill S. 1699 with the 4 weeks/17 weeks provisions would go through the Senate quickly and by unanimous consent, but now this new amendment possibly delays it a little, we're hoping not too long. Hope is that the bill will be passed early this coming week, but it might even be later in the week.

The NELP posts online and in emails verify the part about it being voted out of Finance and the 4 and 17 weeks, and the part about Shaheen can be found on Google News.

10/1/09 11:50 PM, Thurs.

Senate still hasn't voted on this bill, and it looks like it may not be actually out of the Finance Committee yet; very little info available in the news. Latest concrete info is from NELP press release:, which states that on Sept 30 Max Baucus introduced a revised bill version that would give 4x weeks to all states and and additional 13 weeks (total of 17 additional) to states over 8.5%. It's not quite clear if this new version retains the same bill number or a new number.

Senate session ended with adjournment til Monday(!). So it is not clear whether any action on this bill will take place in the Senate Finance Committee Friday or not, especially since that committee is still working out amendments to the health care bill at this late hour of 11:30PM EDT.

9/29/09 3:30PM

No definite date yet for a vote, but latest posts on OC and "insider info" and notices on CSPAN seem to indicate Senate will vote on this bill sometime this week, with some sources saying most likely Wednesday or Thursday.

The current bill is EUC and not is retroactive. It starts after the bill is signed.

Individuals can qualify if they have exhausted all EUC and EB benefits.