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What's Been Happening With the Unemployment Extension Bill?

July 15, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

UPDATE: New info on what’s happening Tuesday — click here to see the update.

With all the work that’s been going on in the Senate this week on financial reform, the small business lending bill and other things, it may seem like the Democrats are doing nothing on the unemployment insurance bill while they wait for an interim senator from West Virginia to be announced. But that’s not the case. On Tuesday and Wednesday this week, Senate Dems executed two important procedural actions that will ensure that when the new senator is seated and they can take up the bill, they can take the quickest route possible under Senate rules to get it passed.

Here’s what those actions look like in the Congressional Record — From Tuesday:

And from Wednesday:

So, why is Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse [D, RI] calling asking for a second reading of the unemployment extension bill and objecting to his own request in the same sentence, and why is Sen. Harry Reid [D, NV] objecting to any further proceedings with the bill?

The answer, of course, is that they are using Senate Rule XIV to skip the committee process and put the bill directly on the Senate calendar for floor consideration. Paragraph 4 of that rule states that "every bill and joint resolution introduced on leave, and every bill and joint resolution of the House of Representatives which shall have received a first and second reading without being referred to a committee, shall, if objection be made to further proceeding thereon, be placed on the Calendar.” So, Senator Whitehouse first objected to having the second reading occur on the same day as the first in order to avoid automatic committee referral under Paragraph 3 of the rule, and then Reid objected to further proceeding of the bill because, under Paragraph 4, the next motion in order after the second reading would have been referring the bill to committee. The acting Senate President followed suit and placed the bill on the calendar for consideration under the requirements of Rule XIV.

As you know, under regular order, bills must be approved by a committee before they can be considered on the floor. The Senate could have followed regular order and brought up one of their own unemployment insurance bills that has been cleared by committee. H.R. 4213, for example, was cleared by the Senate Finance Committee on March 1st. But that bill is different than the one that was passed by the House on July 1st (H.R. 5618), so it would have to be reconciled with the House-passed bill before it could be signed into law. The reconciled version would also have to go back for an extra vote in both the Senate and House to make sure that both chambers did, in fact, pass the same exact version of the bill.

In order to avoid those extra steps, Senate Dems are moving forward with the bill passed by the House on July 1st. But there is a trade-off here — H.R. 5618 does not include the extra $25 per week from the Federal Additional Compensation program (FAC) that was initiated in the 2009 stimulus bill. That program would be terminated under the bill passed by the House on July 1st, but it would be extended under H.R.4213. In other words, Senate Dems have chosen to sacrifice the extra $25 per week in order to get this bill done and signed into law a few days — or even a week or more — sooner.

As you can see on the Senate Democrats calendar, the new West Virginia senator is now scheduled to be sworn in at 2:15 p.m. E.T. on Tuesday, and then immediately after, at 2:30, they will begin voting on the unemployment extension bill. That vote will be on a motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed. Once that passes, a cloture motion on the bill itself will be in order for Thursday morning. After that the bill has to be voted on within 30 hours, so, by Friday afternoon, though it is common for the minority party to allow the vote on the bill to take place immediately after the vote on cloture (for example, that’s what happened today on financial reform conference report). For more detailed info on these procedural steps, see this blog post.

Bottom line: once the interim WV senator is sworn in, and barring any surprising last-minute defections, the Democrats will have the 60 votes they need to break any Republican attempt to stop the bill from passing, and they will be able to do it by the end of the week.

P.S. — since I know folks will be asking: no, the bill will not create additional weeks of benefits beyond the tiers that Congress let expire on June 2. Ninety-nine weeks will still be the maximum benefits period available. That means that after November 30, when this bill is set to sunset, anyone receiving benefits will no longer be eligible to move into the next tier after their current tier expires.

P.P.S. The bill will pay back benefits retroactively for however long you have been without your cheques due to congressional inaction.


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Displaying 1-30 of 98 total comments.

  • buckbusterdouglas 07/15/2010 1:49pm

    Mr Shaw, Thank you for the heads up, it sounds good and everything is in place. i just got ahold of my senator in Mo and told her not to drop the ball and put pressure on senator Nelson from Nebraska democrat who voted against the bill last time, I was told he had so many emails and threats of voting him out in his next election that it will take years to read all the emails sent to him, way to go people keep up the good work! We are being heard

  • Comm_reply
    comments5647 07/15/2010 2:54pm

    I hope people don’t forget come November. They put this off as far as they could thinking it would secure their positions as Senators I just hope people REMEMBER!!! I for one will remember!!! I may have my water shut off and electricity by the time they actually get this done. It seems like it’s just a few days but my water is scheduled to be shut off on the 21st. No one has any money to help with utilities. I WILL REMEMBER!!! I am grateful they finally got moving on this it will be better than not but this has brought so much heartache on my family. Just a job it doesn’t even have to pay a huge salary just enough to cover the basics but I am sure the Senate’s weekend is more important than whether or not I have water and electricity!!!!

  • Comm_reply
    bobbybixler 07/15/2010 6:45pm

    It’s time to get on the side of the good Senators and tell them we appreciate what they are doing. As Mr. Shaw points out, it’s a procedural matter now, not politics as usual. Following rules of order is a good thing and one we should all be thankful for. Now, if only they wouldn’t lock me out of my house and take my car…

  • Comm_reply
    RichardStone 07/20/2010 9:41am

    I am a life long Republican-I have worked and paid taxes for over 50 years-the Republicans have never disappointed me until they have shown their collective rear end over this Unemployment Extension-Senator Isaakson-You are an embarrasment to me and many other Republicans who put you into office-I want you to know that since you ran unopposed I decided to not vote-I will vote against you when the general election is held-I don’t care who the Democrats run against you-You and Saxby both are simply an embarrasment-have a nice day!

  • firestorm145 07/15/2010 1:56pm

    I really don’t care about the extra $25 as long as I get the rest. It will help pay the bills at least and not let people go without food or be homeless. Keep us up to date Mr.Shaw and Thank you

  • Comm_reply
    nathanc 07/16/2010 6:36am

    I agree about the $25, it won’t send me on a vacation. Wish they would go ahead and vote on this. The week was hard enough;food banks , bumming begging, I am so ashamed of this. So I say to the ( rich politicians who had everything handed to them on a silver platter) stay there till you get it DONE. Next for me will be digging through the local resturant’s garbage for food. Have a nice vacation. P.S. nov. is just around the corner

  • cplstopstick 07/15/2010 2:18pm

    Thank you Donny for all the hard work that you are putting into this! My hat’s off to you. I will be glad once this gets passed although I started a part time job that I’ll be lucky to 20 hours a week but it’s a start and I will make it work so that I can complete school with luck in the next year and a half. Yeah the extra $25 a week was nice but I can go without it in order to get the bill through. I have always voted republican but I now consider myself more of an independant. Again thank you Donny for your efforts on keeping up with this issue. To all my fellow unemployed Americans out there. It’s tough to do it but keep your heads up things will improve. I know that I have a similar story to everyone else I lost my job of 10 years in July of 08, it took until June last year to find another job. July last year I blew my knee out and lost the job because I was still in my 90 day probation. Their union contract said that they didn’t have to keep me so I got the foot in the

  • cplstopstick 07/15/2010 2:23pm

    rear end out the door but luckily they paid all medical bills for surgery therapy and meds as well as workmans comp pay until November of last year. I have lost my marriage, my truck and now am going to have to file bankruptcy because I chose put food on the table clothes for my kids and utilities. Yes my financial life is ruined for at least the next 10 years but as long as I have my health I can replace everything else. Suicide seems like a good option for some but please its not the answer, there are people in your life that love and care about you. Taking to violence is not the answer either. The Founding Fathers took to arms and violence in order to liberate and create the United States so that future generations would not have to. Our minds computers and pens are the weapons to use. God bless us all.

  • Comm_reply
    comments5647 07/15/2010 4:06pm

    Wow! Look how precious YOUR life has already been to write encouraging words for the rest of us!!! Let your tombstone read “The World Is a Better Place Because You Walked On It” Your words are so encouraging and I am sure you have people close to you who you are a blessing to. Life is so precious my prayer is for all of us to realize the sun comes up each day giving us another chance to start again. My friend always says because she and her husband and grown children will always have each even if it means having each other living under a bridge somewhere it is worth it! I just love that when I hear her say it. Their lives are so precious to each other more precious than gold!

  • Comm_reply
    cplstopstick 07/15/2010 4:32pm

    Well I’ve been where a lot of people are, and contimplating ending it all. I thought my son would be better off without me but my friends shed light in one of my darkest hours to kept me from giving up and taking the easy way out. Our backs are against the wall, now its time we all come together for each other and light our darkest hours. We can survive this.

  • Comm_reply
    Kerlynne 07/15/2010 8:44pm

    Glad you are still here>> cpistopstick.

  • sruthj217 07/15/2010 2:44pm

    >> I was told he had so many emails and threats of voting him out in his next election that it will take years to read all the emails sent to him, way to go people keep up the good work! We are being heard>>

    This is moving to me to see people taking action at the grass roots level. I personally would be amazed if Nelson changes his vote. Perhaps after all there is more influencing todays American politics than lobbyists and corporate greed. Sometimes many of us feel as if the upper 2% has taken our country hostage and rules Congress.

    I hope it is enough to get this bill passed, we all find work and that our shattered economy goes back to work for all Americans- not just banks and the rich and connected. We all know that is the sort of America of opportunity our image & our Statue of Liberty stands for around the world.

  • Comm_reply
    comments5647 07/15/2010 7:17pm

    The only way your hopes can become reality is if the Federal Reserve Bank is done away with. We must go back to the “Gold” standard and do away with The Federal Reserve Bank in order achieve true stable prosperity and a sound economy. He who controls the money controls our freedom. Currently that control is in the hand of a bank who is privately by foreigners, i.e., the Federal Reserve Bank. Go back to the “Gold” standard and you go back to prosperous economy where there are jobs and thriving business.

  • txgalnokc 07/15/2010 2:46pm

    Donny, Thank you for keeping us posted on the UI bill. Amongst all the different stories being told on this subject – it’s hard to know the truth from a lie. That’s why I feel confident coming to OpenCongress – I know I can come here for honest, straightforward answers. Your effort is greatly appreciated!

  • indimom2010 07/15/2010 3:06pm

    Does anyone know if you received a job this week which I did I worked two days this week. When they pass it can I file for the retro from lost checks?

  • Comm_reply
    juju39567 07/15/2010 4:16pm

    im not sure it seems that you would be reimbursed for the weeks u didnt have a job but i just wanted to say CONGRATS on getting a job. I hope i get to shed this living (or starving) on other peoples actions soon. Congrats again and good luck

  • Comm_reply
    artledoux 07/16/2010 3:30am

    If you continued to file each time you were required you should get it.
    You may even get something for the first week you worked since you only
    worked 2 days. I would call your local office after they pass it to see,
    or you could wait till you get your notice in the mail.
    Good luck to you in your new job!
    Art LeDoux

  • Comm_reply
    FrustratedinNYC 07/16/2010 6:25am

    @indimom2010… you will automatically get all of the checks for whatever weeks you did not work.. that money is still due to you because you did not have a job then. Congrats on the new job!!!

  • fanofjims 07/15/2010 3:21pm

    Dear Donny- I too am grateful for your coverage on such an important matter for so many right now. I have wrote to ALL of my local TV stations condeming their neglect of any coverage. I watched all the network and local news programs here in Denver and not one word was mentioned about this subject for days on end.
    We have truly been ignored and one has to ask why. Although this move FINALLY making it to this point sounds like good news, I have heard many things and promices made by both parties that were basicly lies and this bill simply stayed in limbo. I aint holding my breath until I see the check in my hand.
    And lets not forget to say a prayer for those who already lost their houses or cars while the senators took a July 4th, 4000.00 paid vacation on our tax money.
    I say lets not forget because that is what we as a society tend to do once these types of situations are behind us- Remember why we invaded the East-
    Anybody seen Bin Lately-

  • Comm_reply
    comments5647 07/15/2010 4:36pm

    Remember 2010 is an election year, we hope. But having said that please when you are remembering what Congress did regarding unemployment, especially Senator Ben Nelson,please also consider this: The U.S. House & Senate have voted themselves $4,700 and $5,300 raises respectively!!! I ask myself for which vacation of the previous five while we waited and lost our homes, cars, utilities,etc…while they made up their minds to finally extend unemployment did they earn these pay raises for? I answer myself with not the vacations but in order to pay for their November PINK SLIPS even if there is an October Surprise in the making!!! Please remember please don’t forget….

  • Screwed 07/15/2010 3:44pm

    Not to burst your bubble BUT we got screwed by all if you live in New York State and the reason they are taking so long to pass the bill is not because of the need of 60 votes although that was there ploy. It was because they were waiting for the new numbers to come out. For a person to get Tier 4 in New York State the Unemployment Rate has to be 8.5 as of today if you view the following link you will see the rate in NY at of 07/15/2010 is 8.3 That means that if you are needing a tier 4 there will not be one. The whole senate knew this that is why they have waited. Screwed over I guess the car I have been paying for to look for a job can now be taken by the bank. Homeless

  • Comm_reply
    NeedJobs 07/15/2010 4:10pm

    Screwed, are you sure? I checked for you and see the following….

    8.2% of the labor force – Not seasonally adjusted – Apr 2010

    According to the NY Times

    July 15, 2010, 2:25 pm
    City’s Unemployment Rate Drops to 9.5 Percent
    Despite the end of thousands of jobs for federal census-takers, New York City’s unemployment rate ticked down again in June, the sixth straight monthly decline, to 9.5 percent, the State Labor Department reported on Thursday.

  • Comm_reply
    NeedJobs 07/15/2010 4:27pm

    besides…since the UI benefits stalled in Congress, I don’t think the percentages are reflecting the true unemployment rates. Over 2 million claimants have stopped receiving their benefit checks thus far.

    no doubt it would ultimately be a good sign for everyone if the unemployment rates went down, meaning that most of us would be fortunate to have found jobs.

    but I continue to see lay-off’s due to outsourcing and business shut-downs and still not enough jobs out there

    i hope things work out for you

  • Christine58 07/15/2010 3:59pm

    Thank you Donny from me too! Like I have said before I cant wait for this to be a done deal.(sighs) I just got an e-mail from Rep Phil Gingrey-R-GA and he informed me that he didnt support this bill. He told me to write the senators(which I have several times) I dont know if my simple letters will make a difference, but at least Ive tried.

  • Screwed 07/15/2010 4:17pm

    The 9.5 that you are seeing is for New York City not the whole state. Go to the link I sent and click on NY the Three month average is 8.3

  • mikes1lakerfan 07/15/2010 4:29pm
    In the state of California UI benefits on the first claim are paid out up to 26 WEEKS. The problem with all the UI Extenstion bills that have been submitted to congress is this: SHORT TERM BAND AID ON A LONG TERM PROBLEM. Assuming you were unable to find a job by Nov 30 and your benefits on your first claim are scheduled to run out right after Nov 30 2010 (example Sunday Dec 5th 2010) you will not be eligable for any Federal Extensions becuase the filing deadline has past. HOW IS THAT FAIR COMPARED TO SOMEONE THAT WAS ABLE TO COLLECT UP TO 99 WEEKS!!!!
  • Comm_reply
    jdenz 07/15/2010 6:17pm

    This is a very good point. It’s as if legislators think the employment situation will magically improve by November 30th. Oh, wait, they know it’s not going to improve. They’re more concerned about being re-elected, so it seems, than they are about seriously helping those of us who are unemployed.

  • Comm_reply
    artledoux 07/15/2010 6:40pm

    See if we all lose everything we will no longer live at the residence that we
    lived at when we registered to vote. So we won’t be able to vote so our vote
    won’t matter. We are 10% of the voters, so they do away with us and then the
    republiCON’s will get the majority of the votes. We still won’t have jobs, we
    won’t have unemployment, but hey we can all set up a tent city by Reno at
    Sharron Angles ranch! Maybe she will make smore’s for us!
    Art LeDoux

  • Comm_reply
    comments5647 07/15/2010 7:21pm
    Link Reply
    + -1

    @artledoux surely you meant to say Republicrats because I have news for you if you think either party is solely responsible here. This crash was contrived by design and until everyone understands what happened here we are doomed to remain in this poverty. Check out the documentary Endgame at youtube or any other of Alex Jones movies.

  • Comm_reply
    artledoux 07/16/2010 2:44am

    No I meant RepubliCON’s! Hey the Democrats need to get their$h!T together
    I’ll admit that, but in general they are not doing what they do for
    corporate interest. The Democrats needed to push through a lot more from
    the start of Obama’s term. They screwed around so much with health care
    they did not get enough done. They still have $400 Billion left in the
    kitty for Economic Stimulus and yet they refuse to do anything now that
    would allow business a hand at getting started and create the jobs needed.
    The RepubliCON’s want to push to make the temporary Bush tax cut’s
    permanent, even though it will add 4.4 Trillion to the national debt. When
    it comes to the unemployed however they are upset over 30 billion in short
    term deficit spending, so you can see they don’t care about us!
    Art LeDoux

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