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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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Comments

Displaying 61-90 of 98 total comments.

  • Comm_reply
    5280voter 07/16/2010 5:42am

    How long did you wait on the phone? I asked if they had written the program to IMMEDIATELY pay the retro benfits and couldn’t get a straight answer. In the past when I have moved from one tier to another, it has taken 2-6 weeks to receive payment. And in checking my UI claimant info online, it lists “disqualifed” under payment info. When I asked about this to determine why/what/how I was told it was not a disqualification on my part but on theirs because no money has been approved. Any other info?

  • Comm_reply
    downandout 07/16/2010 6:24am

    I am in Texas and just got off the phone with the Texas Workforce Commission. I was told that I should continue to request payment every 2 weeks(that is here in TX, don’t know about other states). I have used all of Tier I and was ready to move to Tier II. The lady on the phone said that I do not have to apply for Tier II, that it is automatic. She could not, however, give me an exact time that it will take to receive payment once the bill is signed. It must be signed, then they get notification from Austin. It could be days or even up to 2 weeks. Hope this is helpful. Maybe it will be days as opposed to more time. They should be all geared up and ready to go by now. Good luck to everyone!!

  • FEDupWITHtheFED 07/16/2010 5:15am

    something has got to give soon! Why can’t these lawmakers who claim to care about us and our country take one for the team? Give up their weekends and work for us, maybe we need to vote people in that are willing to work on a voluntary basis! Or how about we give them idiots the same salaries as our teachers or nurses? Or better yet, pay them what our service men make in a year, give them the same benefits. See how humbling that would be! I for one, have no idea who to vote for this year, they all make me sick. I have no fiath at all in our government looking out for us.

  • firethegoverment 07/16/2010 5:28am

    Just a thought… We should all gather up all the information needed for the November Election, we must stop all that has voted against the Unemployment, we will need to find out who’s up for election coming this November and do what we do best, speak our minds, maybe some of us can find jobs Campaigning against them, the American people will listen to our stories and feel the pain that we all endured. Each of us are from different states we can set up right in dc and get this Campaign going. Please share your thoughts and ideas to make this happen.We have the power, please let’s use it. Thank you all for all the support you have showed for each other.

  • FEDupWITHtheFED 07/16/2010 5:37am

    “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.”

    Does this answer my question? I am in the first extension now, it is the federal extension. It runs out in 4 weeks, then I go to the state extension….once that is gone I am totally out of benefits. Or does this means if something is passed before my fed ext runs out I will get another fed extension before the state one kicks in????????I have been out of work since september 2009.

  • Comm_reply
    dedgar 07/16/2010 7:51am

    FEDupWITHtheFED

    If HR 5618 passes next week, once you’ve exhausted Tier 1 you will be eligible for Tier 2, and so on. However, all extensions will end on Nov. 30th.

    I tried to piece HR 5618 into the original bill, but there’s been so many amendments … I’m confused.

  • Comm_reply
    FEDupWITHtheFED 07/16/2010 7:55am

    SO that means I will get another fed extension, before the state one? These tiers confuse the hell out of me! I think they purposes try to confuse us on the DOL websites and government websites!

  • Comm_reply
    dedgar 07/16/2010 8:21am

    Yes, if Congress passes a bill that will extend the sunset date.

    In regards to purposely confusing us … I agree. It’s like if they think we know the crumbs they send us (in the form of an EDD check) is in the mail, we won’t try as hard to look for a job.

  • Comm_reply
    FEDupWITHtheFED 07/16/2010 8:34am

    I totally hate even being on this!! I have been working since I was old enough to work on tobacco at the age of 13 going 14, longest lapse of unemplyment was after my daughter was born almost 9 years ago, and tha was for 8 months so I could be home with her. Now I am looking at a year since I have worked……..I have been using this time to go to school while looking for work. Hoping the education will help make my resume more appealing! almost 8 years working in HR for a healthcare system, I am pigeonholed because I am overqualified to do basic clerical work, underqualified for my field because I need that Bachelor’s.

  • Comm_reply
    understanding 07/16/2010 8:40am

    The congressional record above clearly states H.R. 5618.

    7/1/2010—Passed House amended. Restoration of Emergency Unemployment Compensation Act of 2010.

  • Comm_reply
    dbruneau5973 07/16/2010 7:58am

    HR 5618 is NOT going up for VOTE next week. HR 4213 is. Meaning there will still be a delay of 3 or so more weeks minimally.

  • trynghard63 07/16/2010 5:38am

    To msglitzer… I am in Alabama and was told basically the same thing from our unemployment office. Tier 1 ended before I got to it. I have applied for it I guess. And now they say that if and when it passes I have to wait on paper work in the mail and reapply? So between waiting for it to pass, and then waiting for paper work and waiting for that to go through, your looking at another month total with no help. And if I do get lucky and find a job in the meantime, how can I buy gas to get to that job? Why after all of this waiting to we have to still jump through hoops and red tape when they already know because we are already in the system.

  • ladbjangles 07/16/2010 5:57am

    I see where you guys keep saying you are filling out vouchers. I haven’t had any to fill out since my last one, on June 20. Technically I would have 4 weeks of not receiving benefits, with next week being the 5th. Ideas? Nothing on my homepage saying issues delaying payment.

  • ladbjangles 07/16/2010 6:00am

    Haven’t had a link to fill out a voucher since June 20, last benefit. IDeas?

  • Traininguru 07/16/2010 6:00am

    It is a disgrace that congress has elected to pass a UI bill that does not include benefits for individuals who whose benefits have expired after 99 weeks.

    The administration’s “stimulus” package failed to create the jobs necessary to enable these citizens to find work, particularly those over age 55. There were several bills proposed that would have utilized existing, unspent, stimulus funds that could have been used to assist these struggling individuals and their families. Those bills would have been deficit-neutral.

    Instead, Pelosi, Baucus and others declared that “99 weeks are enough,” and have in essence ignored the fact that THERE ARE NO JOBS available for millions of non-union US Citizens who have families to feed. What exactly are they supposed to do? See http://alturl.com/seggt for more information.

  • JCouden 07/16/2010 6:12am

    Screwed is right. It’s the same here in Texas. We’re at 8.3% too and so we can’t get that tier 4 either. I’ve just came out of Tier 1 but we’re on our whopping $68/month of food stamps to feed our family of four. I’ve got 10 agencies helping me look for a job right now. I’m working a couple days a week at my church and friends have bought us groceries but I’ve never felt more desperate in my life. I have days where I feel like God is going to take care of us and I have days where I think about our callous congressmen and get so depressed and feel so hopeless. How can they dismiss that while we are on unemployment, supposedly taking advantage of it, that the lay offs are continuing? I was making $21/hr in Project Mgmt. for 10 yrs. and now I’m down to nothing, maybe have to settle for $8/hr. Companies are still downsizing!

  • firestorm145 07/16/2010 6:30am

    Just to let people know, I have been filing on line .My state told me to keep filing. I have been through the tiers. Once the bill,if signed, it takes a few days. the last tier i was on I got it in three days once it passed. Just thought I would let people know.

  • dbruneau5973 07/16/2010 7:05am

    Sorry everyone but the information in this post about the BILL HR5618 is WRONG. I am in the same boat as everyone else here, but in FACT HR4213 is on the SENATE CALENDAR for July 20th. NOT HR5618. The link for the Senate Calendar clearly shows this. What does this mean? Well the extra steps that Donny said were trying to be avoided, will NOT be. It means, essentially from the time it goes for vote to invoke cloture on Tuesday, potentially 2 or even 3 weeks before it gets signed by the President and another week before we see anything. Once the voting in Senate is done, it will have to go back to the HOUSE for reconciliation and re-vote and then again back to the SENATE for the same. POTENTIALLY, this does NOT HAPPEN before the Congress leaves on their next break August 6th. THIS IS NOT GOOD! I know personally I am screwed! Bills are now so far behind and patience has worn so very thin. If this is the case we will be out on the street. Take a look at the link on the Senate Calendar…

  • Comm_reply
    dbruneau5973 07/16/2010 7:16am

    EVEN BETTER YET.. HR5618 is not showing on any of the Calendars. Only a Gen Order no 459 to have it placed on the Calendar.

  • Comm_reply
    firestorm145 07/16/2010 7:20am

    I truly think you are wrong on this. I had talked to a senator. It goes up for vote on Tuesday. The calendar lots of times is wrong or they have not put it on the calendar yet. I guess we can only see what happens.

  • Comm_reply
    dbruneau5973 07/16/2010 7:59am

    You are absolutely correct, but they didnt say which bill was going to be voted on. HR 4213 or HR 5618. Read the Senate Calendar and it shows HR 4213 which means certain delays. Additionally I spoke with 9 US Senators offices today and they all CONFIRMED that HR413 is up for Cloture Vote NOT HR5618. Meaning the delays are real and in play. Yes, 4213 will be voted on, but it will then be sent back to the House for Reconciliation and Re-vote and then again back to the Senate for the same procedures before going to President Obama. Sorry but again this has been confirmed by 9 Senators Offices this morning… Donny should have confirmed the info before posting it. Look at the Senate Calendar as well!.. Sorry

  • Comm_reply
    firestorm145 07/16/2010 8:11am

    We will see what happens!!!

  • Comm_reply
    firestorm145 07/16/2010 8:25am

    I had talked to some senators offices also and just because its on the calendar like that, that doesn’t mean thats the one they will vote on. At this point its up in the air so all we can do is hope for the best. Good Luck evryone one.

  • Jonapoo4u 07/16/2010 7:42am

    I was watching Cspan at the time sen harry Reid put the UI on the calendar for tuesday so i can confirm it.they will swear the new senator in and then emediately vote as stated in this article.30 hours afterwards they will vote again and then await a predisdent signature on it

  • Comm_reply
    dbruneau5973 07/16/2010 7:49am

    You are absolutely correct, but they didnt say which bill was going to be voted on. HR 4213 or HR 5618. Read the Senate Calendar and it shows HR 4213 which means certain delays. Additionally I spoke with 9 US Senators offices today and they all CONFIRMED that HR413 is up for Cloture Vote NOT HR5618. Meaning the delays are real and in play. Yes, 4213 will be voted on, but it will then be sent back to the House for Reconciliation and Re-vote and then again back to the Senate for the same procedures before going to President Obama. Sorry but again this has been confirmed by 9 Senators Offices this morning… Donny should have confirmed the info before posting it. Look at the Senate Calendar as well!..

  • Livingonaprayer 07/16/2010 8:07am

    The extra $25 may not seem like much, but it is all relative. $25 means alot whole lot more to people that are already without money to pay for food, gas and medical expenses. The government wastes tons of money to corporate America and pork bellies that are ridiculous, so why are we (the strapped unemployed) the ones who are suffering, asked to give up this “minor $25”! Why don’t the government officials who take lavish trips, measls, (Free lifetime medical benefits) on the taxpayers tab asked to give up some of their income!

  • pammyz01 07/16/2010 8:57am

    Honest to Goodness truth! I just had the repo man ( men ) come to my home. Boy, was that ever a humbling experience. Actually, never been so embarrassed in my whole life. Now what to do? I had been talking to the loan company til I was blue in the face for a week now. Hoping that they would wait a few more weeks. Nope.

  • Comm_reply
    firestorm145 07/16/2010 9:08am

    What they will do is probably take the car. But if and when the ui extension passes, You can pay what you owe on the car and get it back. I have had that happen to me in a different state. They repoed a car on me and when I got the money, I went and paid what I owed and I got it back. Just thought I would let you know what happened.

  • pammyz01 07/16/2010 9:13am

    they took it alright. Called the loan company and they said that I basically had 10 days to pay once I recieve the letter in the mail. I will have to pay what I owe ( of course) plus repo fees of 500 some odd dollars. I dont see us getting our money in 10 days or so. I only has 14 payments left on my car.

  • Comm_reply
    firestorm145 07/16/2010 9:23am

    I am sorry about your car. Maybe we will get lucky and the extension will pass fast. It sucks to have a car taken. If the ui passes fast hopefully you can get the car back. Banks that loan don’t have any clue on how hard it is on unemployed people. All they care about is their money not people.

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