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With Votes in Place, Senate Close to Passing Unemployment Bill

April 15, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

After initially faltering, the Senate last night approved a substitute amendment to the unemployment filing extension bill (H.R. 4851), which indicates that the votes are place and the bill should pass today (if Republicans agree to allow a vote) or early next week (if the Republicans demand more procedural votes).

Sen. George Voinovich [R, OH] provided the Democrats with the crucial GOP cross-over vote they needed to break a Republican filibuster of the amendment. He’s expected to vote with the Democrats on the bill form here on out.

The amendment does two things:

1) It extends the filing deadline for people who have exhausted tiers 1-3 of their UI benefits and need to apply for subsequent tiers until June 2nd. The underlying bill would have only extended it until May 5th.

2) It would allow the more 400,000 people who have exhausted their benefits since the filing deadline expired on April 5th to receive back payments.

The amendment and the underlying bill DO NOT create additional weeks of unemployment insurance benefits. There are currently four tiers of extended UI benefits, and if you are eligible for all of them (people in states with higher jobless rates are eligible), you can get a total of 99 weeks of benefits. This bill would not create a Tier V and the 99-week limit would not change. If you want Congress to create a Tier V, you should check out this petition at Change.org.

Image from clementine gallot used under a CC license.

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