Dems Introduce Stand-Alone Unemployment Insurance BillJune 28, 2010 - by Hilary Worden
The American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act (H.R.4213), which would have extended unemployment insurance benefits, closed some tax loopholes and more, was officially abandoned last week after the Democrats failed to overcome a Republican filibuster for the third time. As a result, over a million uninsured people have had their unemployment insurance benefits cut off since they expired on June 2. But while the Democrats may have lost hope of ever passing H.R. 4213, they have recently introduced a new bill for the sole purpose of extending unemployment benefits.
The new bill, the Unemployment Insurance Extension Act of 2010, is just three-pages long and does just one thing — extend the filing deadline for extended unemployment benefits to the end of the year. It was introduced by Sen. Debbie Ann Stabenow [D-MI] (pictured), and has four Democratic co-sponsors. Sen. Olympia Snowe [R-ME] has also said she would support such a bill, suggesting that the it could have at least some bi-partisan support, though not necessarily enough to pass. With the passing of Sen. Robert Byrd [D, WV] and with Sen. Ben Nelson [D, NE] saying last week he would vote against any UI bill that isn’t fully offset with new revenues, the Democrats would need at least 2 more Republicans besides Snowe to cross the aisle and vote with them if they are to have the 60 votes they will need to overcome an inevitable Republican filibuster. Additionally, Democrats may be concerned the bill could give Republicans the chance to kill Senate time that the Democrats would like to spend on other issues.
At this moment, it’s uncertain whether this new bill will be voted on this week. The Democrats could call it up for unanimous consent passage at any point, but that would be blocked by Republicans. If they try to move it under regular order, Republicans could easily use Senate rules to drag the debate out for sevarel days, or even weeks, and Congress is scheduled to leave for a week-long recess on Friday. Keep checking this blog, Facebook and Twitter for updates.