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Senate Dems Strike a Deal on Extending Unemployment Benefits

October 8, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

The Senate has been stalled on voting to extend unemployment benefits like the House did two weeks ago. But they’ve finally figured out how to move forward and it involves extending the benefits for more people than the House bill would. The Hill reports:

Senate Democrats on Thursday introduced a bill that would extend unemployment insurance benefits by 14 weeks at most for jobless Americans in every state.

The new effort — spearheaded by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) – ends weeks of bickering among Democrats over how long the extension would last and who would be eligible for it.

“Chairman Baucus and I worked with our colleagues Senators Reed and Shaheen for the last two weeks to broker an agreement that provides critical assistance to unemployed workers across the nation,” Reid said Thursday in a statement. “This agreement recognizes the need to extend unemployment benefits for workers in every state whose unemployment benefits have run out or will do so in the next several weeks.

Under the new proposal, jobless Americans about to run out of benefits would receive up to 14 additional weeks of unemployment insurance, and those without work in states with unemployment rates exceeding 8.5 percent would receive another six weeks on top of that. Both expansions are paid for in full by an extension of the Federal Unemployment Tax – a yearly fee employers pay – until 2011, the four lawmakers indicated.

The bill approved by the House (H.R. 3548) would extend benefits by 13 weeks and only in states with jobless rates above 8.5 percent. That would have left out about 23 states, even though unemployment has gone up in all those states since the economy started turning south. A list of unemployment rates by state can be seen here.

A joint Senate press release adds this:

The proposal includes a modification to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to allow families receiving the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps, to remain eligible while receiving an additional $25 per week in unemployment insurance benefits. The bill would also update the Unemployment Insurance Modernization provision in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to allow victims of sexual assault who have left their job to be eligible for benefits under the “compelling family reasons” clause. Additionally, the legislation specifies railroad workers facing expiring unemployment benefits would be eligible for additional weeks.

Democrats tried to bring the new bill to the floor today for quick passage, but the unanimous consent agreement was blocked by Minority Whip Sen. Jon Kyl [R, AZ]. Kyl said that he wanted to see a CBO score for the bill before they vote, to which, according to Senatus, Sen. Harry Reid [D, NV] quipped – Republicans had found a new stalling tactic: waiting for a CBO score.

Still, expect this to pas the Senate soon. Once it passes it will have to be reconciled with the Senate bill and passed again by each chamber, unless the House simply adopts the Senate language. In that case it will only need another vote from the House.

For tons more information, see the Benefit Wiki Project on OpenCongress. There you’ll find state-by-state information on unemployment benefits, including regular unemployment compensation, the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program and the Extended Benefits Program, all in a free, open-source, fully-referenced, and non-partisan public resource.

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Displaying 1-30 of 31 total comments.

  • Anonymous 10/08/2009 2:00pm

    Looking forward to a speedy passing of this bill!!

  • billines 10/08/2009 2:21pm

    Why would Senator Kyl delay a bill that would help millions of Americans survive this difficult economic downturn? Because of Kyl, many Americans… republicans, democrats, and independents, are going to lose their homes, their cars and trucks, and in many cases their families will be destroyed because they will never be able to “tread water” until more jobs are available. Senator Kyl has let them sink. Kyl should be ashamed of himself… I know that many unemployed republicans who voted for him are ashamed at doing so, and will not make that mistake again.

  • billines 10/08/2009 2:50pm

    Thanks to ca23 for this:

    The hold up is Senator Jon Kyl, Republican From Arizona.
    He objected that he didn’t have time to read the bill( he had 2 wks to read it when it was in committee only 2 paragraphs were added) and he now wants a consider possible Republican amendments, and also ask the independent Congressional Budget Office to estimate its cost.

    CALL Senator Kyl and ask him to lift objections and pass bill as proposed asap.
    Kyl, Jon – (R – AZ)
    (202) 224-4521
    fax # (202)224-2207

    Call, fax and email him now.

  • Anonymous 10/08/2009 3:49pm

    I just hope that they take care of this bill soon, even though I’m not so sure if I will qualify for the reason that my extension ended the last week of August, but I’m happy that will help a lot of people out there that are struggling to live like I am. If anyone has an answer if I was to qualify, please reply. My eb extension ended the last week of August and I reside in NJ. Thank you and lets pray that this bill is pass soon…Karla

  • Comm_reply
    Anonymous 10/18/2009 7:30am

    I know here in Texas the I have been unemployed since 07’ and every time there is an extension they send me a letter & I just call in to an automated system and just certify again and it is done also you should still be able to get more extended benefits due to the fact that there have been like 3 tears of extended & emergency unemployment together since I have been unemployed so call in and see if there is still an extension available for you now you usually get half of your original amount on your original claim I had received like $2,000 originally now I get like $975 plus the extra $25.00 a week stimulus so I get around $1100.00 total now. Hope this helps just make sure you keep that debit card that they assigned you in the beginning.

  • Anonymous 10/08/2009 5:24pm

    Karla u would qualify this bill is for precisely that everyone who has exhaustedallother benefits EB and all…and this revisement includes all states for at least 14 weeks…mine ran out 9/1/09 and I have resorted to sellingh my stuff to buy diapes for my kids please flood Senator Kyl with emails phone calls and faxes to get this passed asap

  • Anonymous 10/08/2009 6:26pm

    I just hope that they really consider passing this bill as soon as possible. While they are taking time to approve this bill, there is people that are really struggling, there is no food on their table for their kids, no gas on their cars to take the kids to school, not enough money to pay rent and bills and to top it all up applying for jobs is becoming very difficult. I myself have been applying for a job every day and nothing so far, this is been going on for a while. Please, dont take long on approving this bill, it will really help us a lot.

  • bobdabldr 10/08/2009 11:47pm

    It’s always some party-line crap from somebody. Stalling until they go to recess. Senator Kyl, shame on you!

  • Anonymous 10/09/2009 10:55am

    Let’s Get-er-done folks! The last extension ran out in August not next December as the National Press has indicated. This is our ONLY lifeline while we deal with this horrible job market. I’ve got a job interview Monday for a job in California that I won’t be able to get to if I do get it.
    We ARE doing all we can-now just do YOUR job!

  • LucasFoxx 10/09/2009 5:23pm

    Oh NOW he’s concerned with CBO scores!

  • Anonymous 10/10/2009 7:57pm

    For the love of God please Mr.Kyl,Jon(R-AZ)stop these games;people like myself are in cities above 8.5%, El Paso Tx. is at 9.6%. We had a job fair at the the civic center with the help of the Texas Workforce on 9-23-09, over 7000+ unemployed persons showed up. We need your help to pay bills and keep our homes. Please call Mr.Kyl,Jon at 202-224-4521 or fax him at 202-2242207 Please,Please,Help.

  • Anonymous 10/11/2009 12:24pm

    There should be an emergency, bipartisan passage of the 10/8/09(Senator Harry Reid)unemployment compensation extension bill so it can be signed by the President and take effect ASAP!!!

  • bobby12 10/11/2009 5:52pm

    The federal government needs to stay on top of the UI extensions since this is going to be an on going problem for quite sometime. After they pass this extension, they should have the next extension in place and ready to go before the last voted extension has run its course. But of course, our senators do not think about what is happening to us in the long run. They have their steady income coming in and they really don’t care about us.

  • Anonymous 10/12/2009 8:32am

    Hi everyone out there
    has anyone seen anything on this life boat we are waiting on AGAIN thanks to Jon Kyle? I thought they worked for us? Thats a joke I worked for years and paid my taxs. my unemployment ran out (9-1) I did call Jon Kyle and did leave a message Everyone should keep calling him untill he stops his stalling. Well i hope they do something fast not tomarrow NOW!!!!!!

  • mpacny 10/12/2009 2:14pm

    Sen. Kyl screwed all of us big time because even if this bill passes this week it will be weeks before any of us will recieve checks, the unemployment site for NY state says it would’nt be until the week ending October 25th so somehow I have to stretch $150.00 until then, with 2 kids this should prove to be entertaining.

  • Anonymous 10/13/2009 5:56am

    I was looking at the agenda for the week and I saw nothing on there about the unemployment…. What a joke…. Has anyone heard or read anything different?

  • Anonymous 10/13/2009 7:01am

    I think all of us should keep sending e-mails and keep calling Kyle and Obama over and over NONSTOP!!!Mabey then they will speed things up! Has anyone taken a look at some of the things they have taken the time to vote on lately like country music has played an important roll in our culture and other stupid (WHO CARES)bills like that or mabey we should all stand outside congress with sighns that say WILL WORK FOR FOOD!!!

  • Anonymous 10/13/2009 8:16am

    well i just sent kly a piece of my mind i wonder if i will get a response lol

  • Anonymous 10/13/2009 10:57am

    I aso have been sending e-mails and calling Jon Kyle’s Washington office and his home state office I wander why i dont get a response? LOL I also have a question mabey someone can tell me. If this bill ever gets past will those of us who’s unemployment ranout in aug/sep will we get any back pay?

  • Comm_reply
    Anonymous 10/13/2009 3:44pm

    It should be retroactive. Unfortunately it took Florida 20 weeks to start distributing the last one. I finally got mine after escalating to 1 congresswoman,2 Senators,1 state rep and the Governor. I hope they are more prepared this time.
    Come on Senate!!!you get no congratulations for your work today because it didn’t include a vote on the extension. Health Care would be nice but I’m afraid I’ve lived with out health insurance for 15 years because I travel for business and don’t stay in one place only long enough to have something become the next preexisting condition. I need the extension much worse! PLEASE DO YOUR JOB!

  • BLACKBERRY 10/13/2009 1:19pm


  • Anonymous 10/13/2009 3:57pm

    This extension needs to be loaded with an automatic renewal if the UE rate is above 8% because the bureaucracy can’t keep up with it.

  • Anonymous 10/13/2009 6:45pm

    automatic renewal: You are soooo right! Now Obama can you tell me how this health insurance is going to help all the people that can not find work? and all the homeless people YOU Obama and Kyle are creating by not getting this exstention past NOW? DO EITHER OF YOU EVEN CARE? WE ALL NEED YOUR HELP NOW so PLEASE pass it already!!!!!

  • Anonymous 10/13/2009 7:14pm

    President Obama LET ME BE CLEAR! HELP!!!

    LET ME BE CLEAR! We need this bill past NOW!
    LET ME BE CLEAR! People who can not pay rent are becomeing HOMELESS!
    LET ME BE CLEAR! We the people need your HELP!
    LET ME BE VERY CLEAR!! There are children not getting enough to eat because parents can not find work and now no unemployment Do something now PLEASE!!!!!!

  • Anonymous 10/16/2009 12:52pm

    Florida hit 11% this week-HELP with the passage of the extension TODAY!

  • Comm_reply
    Anonymous 10/17/2009 7:53am

    tO THE LET ME BE CLEAR GUY…I AM WITH YOU, IT IS ALREADY TOO LATE FOR ME. I NEEDED THIS PASSED 2WEEKS AGO AND I MAY HAVE BEEN OK. bUT they need to pass this for the rest of you. a small not every but a group of republicans are killing me,stalling. The worst part is i know and so does everyone else that this will pass, they are just playing games and trying to see wghere they can get the democrats to give in a different area if they sign off on this. It’s kinda like the republicans are saying……“HOw bad do you want this for your people and how much are you willing to give” and then we’ll sign off on and do what we know is the good and right thing to do. it’s just sad

  • Anonymous 10/17/2009 7:36am

    It is time for the president to sign an executive order to pass this ammendment Now. (i dont blame the president because i know he wants this passed also) but LET ME BE CLEAR! I am 36 years old and live in Minnesota I lost job and now my apt. and car and now laptop so i can eat and i am hungry today. I applied at target for $7.50 an hr (i use to make over 40 grand) tough right! Suck it up and work for minimum wage right!! One problem…..they didn’t hire me (BECAUSE THERE WERE 7pl asked for help before from my goanything from my gov. But i am asking you them to pass this bill NOw….Not Tomorrow, NOT AFTER BREAKFAST,RIGHT F>CKING NOW!! People like me in my position will put the money right back in to the economy and it will stimulate the economy that way also, it’s not like we have a choice!!! Everyone from the president, to democrats and even most republicans and financial and economic experts from alan greenspan to u name it wants this to pass!!! So whats the hold up???? Same old bs

  • Anonymous 10/17/2009 7:47am

    Sorry for my mixed up sentences, it went too long and deleted part of a sentence so it didnt make sense. But you get the jist of it. Pas this AMMENDMENT NOW!! A handful of republicans are using old school good ole boy stall tactics and playing games that everybody in the us i’ve ever spoke to is sick of!! There are 6 to8 people applying for every 1 job opening. I applied at target for$7.50 an hour when i use to make 40thousand plus 401k and benefits and perks. So i and many others like me need you republicans to stop playing games and pass this now. We put the money (out of necessity) right back in to the economy so where this money is coming from will kill two birds with one stone..if u will. experts financial advisors democrats and republicans alike, know this is the right and smartest thing to do. So u handful of repulicans stop your shannanigans or however you spell it NOW> IWANT THIS BILL PASSED YESTERDAY, give us our belief in our system back. It’s already to late for alot of us

  • Anonymous 10/17/2009 10:29pm

    I think that personally everyone needs to let them do what they have to do to pass it instead of being an annoying flock of birds. “Yes” many are finding that they are in trouble and such but they know that we need this and I am sure that they will pass it. Give it time

  • Anonymous 10/18/2009 8:07am

    Now everyone wants to yell at Obama but it is the republican stall tactics that are putting us where we are today. Obama can’t pass a bill without the consensus of everyone there just like health care the halt on that is some liberal democrats are stalling that bill from passing if they were all in agreement about this we could pas that health care bill without the republicans say so but of course nothing is that easy. They don’t care about the little people as long as they get that money from the lobbyists they will stall things what a shame well people now you see what your vote is worth not a damn thing. They see that the little people are suffering but do they care all I have to say is thanks Bush for putting us in the shit hole for 8yrs you republicans should be proud of yourselves all you do is bitch when you feel the crunch but you are the one’s that put Bush in office for 8yrs and one election was rigged but hell now we have a president that can do

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