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Update on Tuesday's Unemployment Vote

July 16, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

As some of you have noted in the comments, in my post last night on what’s been going on with the unemployment bill, I came to the wrong conclusion about which bill — H.R. 4213 or H.R. 5618 — would be getting a vote on Tuesday. Because, as I explained, Senate Democrats had been setting up the procedure for bringing H.R. 5618 to the Senate floor directly (skipping the committee process), I figured that was the bill they were planning to move forward with. However, shortly after publishing the post, new information was posted on the Senate calendar that indicated H.R. 4213 would actually be the bill getting a vote.

Here’s what it in the Congressional Record Daily Digest for Thursday about Tuesday’s vote:

A unanimous-consent agreement was reached providing that at 2:30 p.m., on Tuesday, July 20, 2010, Senate resume consideration of the amendment of the House of Representatives to the amendment of the Senate to H.R. 4213, to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to extend certain expiring provisions; that the motion to reconsider be agreed to, and Senate vote on the motion to invoke cloture on the motion to concur in the House amendment to the Senate amendment to the bill with Reid Amendment No. 4425 (to the amendment of the House to the amendment of the Senate to the bill), in the nature of a substitute.

This is the same exact motion and the same exact amendment that the Senate voted on on June 30. It was effectively filibustered then by a vote of 58-38, but, remember, Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid [D, NV] only voted “nay” in order to preserve his right under Senate rules to bring the bill back up for another vote. If another senator had voted “aye,” Reid would have switched his vote to an “aye” in order to secure the 60 votes that are needed to break a filibuster. On Tuesday, after Carte Goodwin (Byrd’s replacement) is sworn in, the Democrats will have 60 votes to break the Republican-led filibuster and pass the cloture motion.

Once cloture passes, the Senate will then have to vote on passage of the “motion to concur in the House amendment to the Senate amendment to the bill with Reid Amendment No. 4425” within 30 hours. The Republicans could choose to keep the debate open for the full 30 hours, or they could let the Democrats proceed within the final vote sooner. It’s customary for the minority party to let the final vote happen shortly after cloture is invoked since passage only takes 51 votes and it has just been shown that the majority has at least 60, but the Republicans do stand to benefit by using up as much of the Democrats’ time as they can, so we’ll see.

Once final passage is secured in the Senate, the bill will have to go back to the House for a vote on a concurring to Senate amendment.

On May 28, the House passed a version of this bill that contained the unemployment insurance extension and several controversial tax provisions by a vote of 215-204. On July 1, the House passed a stand-alone unemployment extension bill (H.R. 5618) by an overwhelming 270-152. Given their ability to pass both a stand-alone UI bill and one that includes a bunch of unrelated tax items, they should have no problem passing the Reid Amendment. Besides the UI extension, it contains an extension of the closing date for the first-time homebuyer tax credit, which is fully offset by three non-controversial revenue items, details of which can be found here.

As soon as the House votes favorably on concurring with the Senate amendment, the bill can be sent to President Obama to be signed into law.

Now let me throw in this important disclaimer: This is all at the discretion of Majority Leader Reid and it is subject to change. As we know, Reid has been working simultaneously to have H.R. 5618 ready for a vote as well, and just because the calendar says H.R. 4213 right now doesn’t mean that is definitely what will happen on Tuesday. No matter what, it looks right now like there should be no problem with getting the unemployment extension signed into law by the end of next week. Keep checking this blog or subscribe to the RSS feed for updates.

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