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Unemployment Bill Hits a Speed Bump, But Passage Is Still Expected

April 14, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

The Senate seems to be on course to pass a bill to extend the deadline for people who are exhausting their current tier of extended unemployment benefits and need to apply for the next tier (H.R. 4851). The bill will extend the deadline until May 5, at which point they will probably be back for another big partisan fight over extending it once again.

Earlier today, Sen. Max Baucus [D, MT] brought up an amendment to extend the extension of the deadline from May 5th until June 2nd. It also would extended the other expiring programs in the bill until June, like COBRA health benefits, national flood insurance and the 21% scheduled Medicare payment cut. Additionally, it would pay benefits back retroactively for those whose have lapsed over the past couple weeks because of congressional inaction.

The Senate failed to defeat a Republican filibuster of it, 58-40 (60 votes were needed), but it will be voted on again and is expected to eventually pass and be adopted. The AP explains:

Despite winning the Republican vote they needed, Democrats fell just short of the 60 votes necessary to defeat a GOP challenge to the jobless benefits measure. Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy was absent to attend the funeral of a close friend.

The defeat should be temporary since Democrats are likely to win a revote as soon as Wednesday afternoon after Leahy returns to Washington.

If you look at the roll call page, you’ll see that Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid [D, NV] was the only Democrat to vote against the amendment. That’s how you know it’s coming back for another vote. By voting against it, Reid is reserving his right under the Senate rules to bring up the amendment again once Leahy is back and pass it. If Reid had voted yes, he would not have been allowed to bring the amendment up for a second vote under the Senate rules.

If/when the Baucus amendment is adopted, the bill will have to go back to the House for another vote on agreeing to the Senate amendments.

Image from TheTruthAbout… is used under a CC license.

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