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House Rejects Stand-Alone Unemployment Insurance Bill

June 29, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

The House today failed to pass a stand-alone bill to extend unemployment insurance benefits (H.R. 5618). The final vote was 261-155. 277 votes (a 2/3rds majority of those present and voting) were needed under the suspension of the rules procedure that was used by the Democrats in order to avoid Republican obstruction tactics.

The full roll call details are not yet available online, but I will update this post with a link as soon as they are. Full roll call details can be found here.

Republicans opposed the bill because it’s costs, approximately $34 billion, were not offset with new revenue. Since the financial crisis of 2008, Congress has routinely passed UI extension bills without offsets because benefit payments to help the unemployed are considered “emergency spending” and are not subject to pay-as-you-go rules.

The bill that was rejected today would have extended UI benefit payments, which expired in late May, until November 30, 2010. Without the extension, some 1.7 million unemployed people will lose their payment by Jul 3. Benefits for the unemployed will continue to run out at a rate of about 200,000 per week until an extension is signed into law.

This leaves Democrats with basically two options for passing an unemployment insurance extension before the July 4 recess — find a revenue offset to pay for the costs that can pass through both the Senate and the House (which may be what Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid [D, NV] is talking to Republicans about today on the Senate side), or try again in the House under normal rules and see if they can overcome Republican dilatory tactics and poison-pills to pass it with a simple majority.

UPDATE: Arthur Delaney at Huffington Post reports on the next step:

Bill cosponsor Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.) said Democrats will return to the measure on Wednesday, when it will face a much lower simple-majority 219-vote threshold. “It will pass,” said Levin, who added that he is coordinating with his counterparts in the Senate.

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