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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), Reid’s and Baucus’ $150 billion American Workers, State, and Business Relief Act would extend unemployment benefits and COBRA health insurance benefits through the end of 2010. The unemployment benefits would be extended retroactively to Feb. 28, meaning that unemployed workers could recoup any benefits lost when they expired last Sunday.

The measure also includes a seven-month delay of the 21 percent cut in Medicare payments to doctors, billions in federal dollars for state governments and a host of tax cuts and credits for businesses, biodiesel fuel, home weatherization and more.

Those who claimed that the initial $15 billion Senate jobs bill was too small will find a lot to like in this new bill from Reid. Almost all of these provisions were previously axed by Sen. Reid from an earlier draft of the Senate jobs bill.

Some Senate Republicans have spoken out against the longer benefit extensions but many of those tax cuts and credits could help garner some Republican votes. Reid expects the Senate to vote on his bill this week.

You can read the bill here.

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