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Senate Breaks GOP Filibuster of Unemployment Extension, Bill Now Set to Become Law

July 20, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

UPDATE, 9:45 p.m.: I’m traveling, so a little late with the updates here, but it looks like this finally passed earlier this evening by a vote of 59-39. The bill now moves back to the House of Representatives for one more vote. They are expected to hold that vote tomorrow and the bill will most likely be signed into law tomorrow as well.

UPDATE, 5:45 p.m.: The Senate is voting right now on 5 Republican amendments to the bill and will vote on final passage of the bill after these votes. None of the amendments are expected to pass. Under Senate rules, the final vote on passage must happen before 9 p.m. this evening. You can follow along with the votes live on C-SPAN 2.

Original post below…

After 6 weeks of failure and delay, the Senate this afternoon finally voted to end a Republican filibuster of the unemployment insurance extension bill, allowing it to move forward towards final passage and becoming law. The Senate still has to take one more vote on the bill, but the motion they passed this afternoon was the big hurdle that, until now, they had been unable to overcome. The bill is now virtually guaranteed to be signed into law this week.

Sen. Carte Goodwin [D, WV], West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin’s pick for replacing the late Sen. Robert Byrd [D, WV], was sworn-in just moments before the Senate voted on the motion to end the Republican filibuster, and he provided Democrats with the 60th vote they needed to pass it. One Democrat, Sen. Ben Nelson [D, NE], voted with Republicans against the motion, and two Republicans, Sen. Susan Collins [R, ME] and Sen. Olympia Snowe [R, ME], crossed the aisle to vote with the Democrats.

Under Senate rules, a vote on pasage of the bill itself must now occur within 30 hours. The vote on passage requires a simple majority of 51 “ayes” to pass, not 60 like the motion to break the filibuster. Since the Democrats have just shown that they have more than 51 votes for the bill, the Republicans may agree to letting the final vote happen before the 30-hour clock has completely run out.

What’s in the Bill?

This bill, H.R. 4213, began as a $141 billion, 426-page omnibus package of stimulus spending, tax measures, unemployment insurance and more. But what the Senate voted to move forward with today (S. Amdt. 4425) is revision of the bill that whittles it down to $34 billion, 13 pages and includes only one substantial item — an extension of unemployment insurance for people who have been out of work for 6 months or longer. You can even see this change reflected in the title of the bill. It was originally called — somewhat awkwardly — the “American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act.” It has now been renamed simply the “Unemployment Compensation Extension Act.”

The filing deadline for unemployment insurance benfits expired on June 2nd; this bill would extend that deadline until November 30, 2010, allowing unemploed individuals who exhaust their current tier of benefits, or who have exhausted their last tier since June 2nd, can file to move into the next tier of benefits.

The bill also provides for benefits to be paid back retroactively for people who have seen their payments cut off since the filing deadline expired on June 2.

Additionally, it includes an extension of the closing deadline for the first-time homebuyers tax credit, but that provision is redundant with a bill that was signed into law on July 2nd (H.R. 5623). There are also three revenue-raiser provisions in the bill — changes to the Travel Promotion Act, cracking down on tax fraud committed by prisoners, and recessions from the Defense Department budget. These are three provisions are estimated to raise $146 million over the next ten years and generally non-controversial. You can read more about them here.

What’s Not in the Bill?

Tier V — The bill would not create additional weeks of unemployment benefits. 99 weeks (Tier IV) would still be the maximum amount of a time a person could receive benefits for in states with high unemployment rates, and 86 weeks (Tier III) would still be the max in states with low unemployment rates.

Federal Additional Compensation Program — This stimulus program, which provided an extra $25 per week in unemployment benefits payments, would not be extended under the bill. That means that all retroactive payments would be for $25 less than what they were before June 2nd, as will all payments in new tiers.

COBRA — These benefits for helping unemployed people pay for health insurance were dropped from the bill in a previous iteration. They will not be extended in this bill and there is no plan to extend them during this session of Congress.

What Happens Next?

As I mentioned above, the Senate will take one more vote on the bill within the next 30 hours. Once that passes, they will send it over to the House of Representatives, which will vote on agreeing to the Senate’s changes to the bill. The House already has that vote on their schedule for the week, and it is expected to pass easily. After that, the bill will be enrolled and sent to President Obama for his signature. That could happen by the end of the week, possibly even as soon as Wednesday afternoon.

Once the bill is law, state labor departments will immediately begin implementing it and sending out payments. As Annie Lowrey at the Washington Independent explains, these agencies are already preparing for the law, but the combination of high unemployment and uncertainty over what Congress will do with the benefits has given them a real logistical headache and may cause some hiccups in implementation.

To find and share information on how this bill is being implemented in your state, see the Benefit Wiki project on OpenCongress.

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Displaying 361-390 of 395 total comments.

  • Jonapoo4u 07/21/2010 11:56am

    yeah my bad i though dems needed 67

  • dwcstmdznr 07/21/2010 11:57am

    Do we need yeses or nos

  • Comm_reply
    trynghard63 07/21/2010 11:59am

    We are needing No’s

  • Comm_reply
    dwcstmdznr 07/21/2010 12:03pm


  • Comm_reply
    Abaratarrr 07/21/2010 12:09pm
    Link Reply
    + -1

    it does not effect us today either way, they are voting on if the bill should be paid now or if we should borrow the money pay for the bill. The extension will pass regardless of if we pay for it or borrow the money.

  • mkjking 07/21/2010 11:57am

    Just read an article that states that the vote will take place around 6:00 p.m. PT, which would be 9:00 p.m. ET.

  • mkjking 07/21/2010 11:59am

    Hopefully, once said and done and sent to the House, things will move a bit faster for all of us. I can’t watch the session on television, because my husband would come home and find me wearing the television as an ankle bracelet.

  • Comm_reply
    BrandiWY 07/21/2010 12:00pm


  • Comm_reply
    Abaratarrr 07/21/2010 12:01pm

    you can watch it live online then you are not victim to misinformation printed in the newspapers that are trying to sell you something.

  • widget02us 07/21/2010 12:08pm

    Are these idiots (Republicans) actually trying to make amendments???

  • Comm_reply
    Abaratarrr 07/21/2010 12:13pm

    you really have not been paying attention they have agreed to a vote now, they could have required them to wait 30 hours and only count hours when the senate is in session pushing this out till next week.

  • Jonapoo4u 07/21/2010 12:17pm

    these are just amendment votes they will probably still vote on 4213 tonight at 9

  • Comm_reply
    Abaratarrr 07/21/2010 12:20pm

    Reid proposed they vote on 4 amendments with debate limited to 40 minutes then a vote on the bill, there were no objections. they are not forcing them to wait the whole 30 hours that was bad reporting.

  • BrandiWY 07/21/2010 12:20pm

    Yes, our friends across the aisle would like to spend the day making motions and calling votes to run 30 hours up on the clock. Would you like more cabbage water? I am just stuffed!

  • Jonapoo4u 07/21/2010 12:24pm

    i guess all thats left is to bust the reps balls on all amendments and ride the clock

  • Comm_reply
    Abaratarrr 07/21/2010 1:23pm

    do you not read before you post. they do not have to ride the clock they are going with what Reid ( a democrate) proposed without objection. they are not enforcing the 30 hour rule, they could have pushed this out to next week.

  • widget02us 07/21/2010 12:24pm

    No BrandiWY I am also stuffed!

  • jkbrink 07/21/2010 12:26pm

    Is it now true that they aren’t going to vote on this until tomorrow?
    Why are they doing this???

  • Comm_reply
    firestorm145 07/21/2010 12:30pm

    It said that the house was supposed to vote on it tomorrow. That was on cspan

  • seanurse 07/21/2010 12:35pm

    is anyone else hearing that collins and snow are voting for all these amendments to 4213. i hope they havn’t changed there votes for the bill passing. im getting a little worried now. would have much rathered they voted against all those amendments.

  • Comm_reply
    fa2010 07/21/2010 1:08pm

    We don’t need them. We only need 51 votes for this one and we have it w/o them!

  • Comm_reply
    Abaratarrr 07/21/2010 1:20pm

    there was nothing bad about any of those amendments, they just let the senators shows were they stand on the individual issues so people can vote responsibly, several democrats voted yes for some of those amendments. In the past the first amendment proposed received support from 100% of the democrats in the senate.

  • Jonapoo4u 07/21/2010 12:46pm

    we should make a movie about this and put it on lifetime.or we can make a reality show called go crazy because you lost everything and blow up senators show

  • Comm_reply
    dwcstmdznr 07/21/2010 1:07pm

    and who would play the crazy unemployed bomber?

  • Comm_reply
    dwcstmdznr 07/21/2010 1:07pm

    I know, Mel Gibson!

  • Jonapoo4u 07/21/2010 1:26pm

    yeah and the name would be IU gone wild

  • CaptainPointless 07/21/2010 2:13pm

    First one to post after HR4213 has been passed through Senate!!! We’re finally getting somewhere, people. I just hope it’s soon enough for some people not to lose their homes.

  • cplstopstick 07/21/2010 6:34pm

    I read on Indiana’s website a little bit ago that they said that it would take 2 weeks just reprogram the computers. I just heard on the local news that most likely next week the retro payments will reach the unemployed. Someone please correct me if I’m wrong I dont want to stir the pot but I also thought that I heard that the government had told the states to have their unemployment systemd already programmed for teh passage of the bill so that payments would go out immediately. Does anyone have any idea about this? Again I don’t want to stir the pot with bad information but I am curious if there is any faint truth to what I may have heard. I like all of us need all this now so we can eat and pay our bills. Thanks everyone

  • Comm_reply
    BreeLane 07/21/2010 9:20pm

    I called yesterday to certify. My certification was approved. That means when the bill is signed into law, my check will be deposited into my bank account. Normally the money would show up in my account the very next day. I don’t think payments are going out immediately since my payment didn’t show up today. I just pray that it comes in by the end of next week (hopefully before) because I really need it.

  • Revolution 07/21/2010 8:21pm

    VOTE HIM OUT!!! First chance to send a message to these idiots!
    Tom Coburn-Republican from Oklahoma is asking people on his Face Book page to change their profile picture in support of his primary election and vote on 7/27. Please stop by and remind him of how he voted on unemployment-he needs to be unemployed soon!

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