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What the Introduction of the Stand-Alone UI Bill Means

June 28, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Just a quick note here regarding the new, stand-alone unemployment insurance bill in the Senate and what its introduction last week means for the prospects of getting an extension passed. To be clear, the fact that it has been introduced does not in any way indicate that the congressional leadership intends to move on it. Any senator can introduce any bill on any issue they choose. They don’t need consent from anyone else — they simply draft it and drop it in a box. Senate workers then assign it a number and file it away with the tens of thousands of other bills that have been introduced this session. The vast majority of bills in Congress never go anywhere in the legislative process, and only about 4% of the bills that are introduced in a given session become law.

Now, since, in principle at least, this is a proposal that the majority of the Senate supports, and one that they are getting bombarded with constituent emails and phone calls on, this bill is far more likely to become law than most. But it still needs leadership support to move forward. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid [D, NV] (pictured) makes the ultimate call on what does and does not come to the Senate floor for debate and votes. Right now, he has chosen to move onto the Small Business Credit Initiative Act, instead of continuing with the unemployment issue. Reid could call on the new stand-alone bill next, or he could choose not to because he may want to try to save precious Senate time and roll it in with other issues (like the Dems tried to do with the failed H.R. 4213). As Mike Lillis at The Hill reported last night, the Democratic plan for now still seems to be to keep the unemployment insurance extension together with other “must-pass” items, specifically aid for cash-strapped states struggling to pay fro Medicaid.

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