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Reid To Address Unemployment Insurance Issue This Week

February 24, 2010 - by Eric Naing

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid [D, NV] is looking to extend unemployment benefits ahead of a February 28 deadline. No issue inspires more passion here at OpenCongress than unemployment insurance with good reason. Very soon, thousands could be denied unemployment benefits and in recent days Congress has scrapped several attempts to prevent that from happening.

The House last year already passed a six-month extension of the unemployment insurance benefit and COBRA health care subsidy as part of a $154 million jobs bill (H.R.2847). An accompanying Senate jobs bill, which was passed by the Senate today in a 70-28 vote, was stripped of the extensions by Reid to bring the bill’s cost down.

Now it looks like Reid is planning two benefits extension bills: one stopgap, 30-day extension that would be voted on this week ahead of Sunday’s deadline and a larger extension to be voted on later.

The Orlando Sentinel explains how the 30-day extension would work:

The stopgap measure, which could be voted on as early as tonight, doesn’t add new weeks to the maximum anyone is allowed to claim — about 99. Instead it amounts almost to a procedural measure, allowing people who are coming to the end of one tier of benefits to move into the next without a break.

And the Associated Press explains what might be in a larger extension bill:

A top Reid aide could be overheard suggesting a full-year extension of unemployment insurance and a 65 percent health insurance subsidy for the unemployed through the federal COBRA program.

The larger extension bill could also include provisions renewing parts of the PATRIOT Act and fix to the formula that determines Medicare payments to doctors.

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