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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 91-98 of 98 total comments.

  • conniecrass 07/16/2010 9:23am

    Just to let you all know what I was told yesterday at the Career Center- if this gets approved it will take about 4 days for it to come down to the states and you will need to contact the career center/unemployment office to get your cards caught up for each week you couldn’t certify. Let’s hope that this time it gets approved and we can get caught up on our bills – it’s been a painful journey but there is hope at the end of the tunnel. Don’t give up – don’t forget to vote in November. This has been a very sobering experience. You see where people have reached out and helped those who are suffering and tried to pull together for the good of others. I hate being in this situation – and vow to reach out to others who are hurting to make other’s lives better too. During this time we’ve had a terrible flood in Tennessee and I’ve been able to help others in worse situations and its made me feel better to reach out and help.

  • Comm_reply
    pammyz01 07/16/2010 9:34am

    I have always been there to help anyone in need. I have a hard time asking for myself tho. I really have no one to turn to for money requests. We tried to qualify for food stamps when this happened. Husband makes 56 too much a month. Because they go by gross, not net. They dont take into account that I am now on his insurance and it goes up significantly with a spouse. Before we carried our own seperatly. We live in a small town with about 7K pop. Not too many programs here. I take items to the flea market every weekend for extra money. Raining now, its outside. Jeez, cant a girl get a break!

  • Comm_reply
    DTyner 07/16/2010 11:34am

    I am new here so not sure how this works,…my husband was only on a 2nd tier and has apps out all over the place…after being laid off last October and loosing our health benefits…I have been the only one working and just able to cover the basic necessities…then with all the stress…I wound up having a heart attack in March…so with the UI cut out that’s even more stress…sorry I am venting and frustrated…I had to crawl back up off the hospital bed to go back to work…just to afford the basics.

  • karend82 07/16/2010 9:17pm

    so what about the rest of us that have eb it says they owe me money I have a remaining balance and it also states that I can not move into a new tier am I even going to get any money I think this is wrong and I also think that ppl who can’t find a job everyone should get the full 99 weeks what is going to happen to the rest of us? Are we gonna get that back pay even though it says that we can not move into a new tier….so if we cant move into a new tier and they are not making one are we lossed out on the weeks we have been claiming? This is so confusing can anyone help me with this question???

  • karend82 07/16/2010 9:49pm

    so does it mean that if they are not creating a tier 5 then will i even get the remainder of the 99 weeks? Will I get paid beyond the 3240 that the page says they owe me but it says that I am no longer allowed to move into a new tier bc I am in the last of tier 4 anyone understand?

  • Comm_reply
    FEDupWITHtheFED 07/17/2010 2:33am

    I have no clueI am in the first extension now, will be out of work for a year in September, I am at 42 weeks right now (inital claim of 26 weeks, plus 16 weeks of the first extension). I called DOL, they told me once these 4 weeks are up I go onto the state ext. then I am basically assed out. No one can answer my questionsAll I want to know is if this gets approved will I still get another federal extension before the state one kicks in??Technically I guess I am still in tier 1 of EB. Its not that I want to be out this long, I WANT to find a job desperatly, but I have had no luck at all! I just want to make sure that I still have something coming in to my family and for how long. One of a couple of things will happen.Fall is the new fiscal year for many organizations, so they will either be making more cuts or hiring because their budgets will be bigger.

  • beenblue 07/17/2010 8:58am


  • Kerlynne 07/17/2010 5:31pm

    no mater which one they pass we will loose our $25 a week stimulus money… there goes the food.geee.. no car… no home… no food. what could be next?

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