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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 241-270 of 395 total comments.

MATHSMOM 07/21/2010 5:55pm
in reply to bwcox Jul 20, 2010 11:31am

Yes! Thanks you! I would have no idea what was going on with out these reports!

MATHSMOM 07/21/2010 6:04pm
in reply to sruthj217 Jul 20, 2010 11:33am

Yes I agree the Repubs and Dems should have worked better on this bill together. I think the Repubs should have come up with an idea if they didn’t want to put this country in more debt. I can see lots of ways they could have done that like cutting out silly things money goes for. However, I am not willing to vote for dems to ruin this country further. I am not willing to vote for ppl who do not respect the sanctity of marriage and pro-abortion believers and so on. I think we need to throw out ALL of the senators and the house (dems and repubs)and start over fresh! God help this country!

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

Spam Comment

buffalou 07/21/2010 9:02pm

Congrats to those who will benefit from this legislation! I’m a 99er & what I really think is that by the end of the year most all of the unemployed will STILL be unemployed. The only difference will be that the unemployment rate will be hugely improved because unemployed people don’t count unless they’re collecting benefits. Every one of us is on their way to being a 99er or you’re already there. Need I point out that if Congress can ignore a 99er now, they can do exactly the same thing at the end of the year. Looks to me like this could get ugly.

Found this outstanding article about the 99ers:

trynghard63 07/21/2010 11:57am
in reply to Jonapoo4u Jul 21, 2010 11:53am

I love living in Alabama and these guys need to gooo!

cavsruleall 07/21/2010 4:21am

Sorry, meant to say “infuriating” and “UNemployed.” Typos…

ExGOP 07/20/2010 2:13pm
in reply to carebear Jul 20, 2010 12:29pm

Check your States Employment Departments website. They should be posting new press releases to help reduce the flood of calls they’ve been receiving.

Abaratarrr 07/21/2010 11:49am
in reply to mkjking Jul 21, 2010 11:40am

you can watch for you self. they are reviewing the amendments then voting on the bill.

firestorm145 07/21/2010 11:51am

here we go

artledoux 07/21/2010 6:30am
in reply to cavsruleall Jul 21, 2010 4:20am

51 votes for cloture, the final vote needed. the first vote needed 60 to
stop the filibuster.
Art LeDoux

mikes1lakerfan 07/21/2010 6:39am
in reply to mikes1lakerfan Jul 21, 2010 6:35am

voting for Republican SENATORS that is.

ExGOP 07/21/2010 6:34am
in reply to artledoux Jul 21, 2010 6:22am

If cavsruleall was replying to my sore loser statement, then you both are correct. However, his statement regarding HR 5618 is still incorrect, and that is what I was replying too.

trynghard63 07/20/2010 11:26am

Agreed we all need to keep coming back and band together. But again we somehow need to stress to them that we want our jobs back. If they hadnt sent our jobs away, guess what? We wouldnt be going through this. I want to find a way to make our voices heard. I will remember in November. I doubt I ever forget. The rich get richer by sending jobs over seas. The poor get poorer because of the greedy companys. Government can step in and tax or fine these companys. I just dont get it.

dwcstmdznr 07/21/2010 11:54am
in reply to trynghard63 Jul 21, 2010 11:53am

Hope not, I’m planning to retire to Alabama in the near future

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.

sruthj217 07/20/2010 11:32am

There has been so much traffic at this site this afternoon it has taken me over 15 minutes just to log in! :)
My thanks go first to Donny Shaw for covering what has been such a hugely important issue to all of us. I was sweating bullets today and I’m sure many of you were too.

I can’t underestimate some of the statements being made here today. Especially that this extension is likely to be the last given the November elections and that we all need not only to lay emergency plans now but to stay involved and hold Congress accountable to stop offshoring, rampant temping and bad business practices and help create more decent livable JOBS. The math is against us now (10 searchers for 1 job) and that needs to change.
Regardless with the stimulus money going in the job climate is sure to improve at least temporarily.

jenny2010 07/20/2010 11:23am

Thank you. I am grateful for the extension and hope companies begin hiring more. My mortgage is two months past due and I have been having to borrow gas money to go to interviews, Now I can continue my job search and hopefully land a job ASAP.

Jonapoo4u 07/21/2010 11:56am

yeah my bad i though dems needed 67

bwcox 07/20/2010 11:31am

I will ditto that Ktula7…Mr. Shaw you have provided explanations and insight all the way through this episode…many thanks!

mgb 07/21/2010 6:51am
in reply to trynghard63 Jul 20, 2010 10:18am

But just because it gets signed into law doesn’t help people right away. I called the Kentucky Unemployment office yesterday after the Senate vote, and I got the impression from the harried telephone operator that he thought it could be up to 4 weeks before everything got resolved.

So even more people will loose thier homes, etc. while waiting for all the paperwork.

State officals responsible for disbursements are the next group to urge to action.

GodisGreat44 07/20/2010 11:48am
in reply to kapachupi1012 Jul 20, 2010 11:38am

praise the Lord for he will always love us. He will always be with us. Doesn’t matter if you believe in Him or love Him, as well. he loves everyone and will support the entire human race

firestorm145 07/21/2010 7:17am

When are they voting the second time on this? Anyone know? Thanks!!

seanurse 07/20/2010 12:23pm
in reply to mjh Jul 20, 2010 12:01pm


Abaratarrr 07/21/2010 11:57am
in reply to mkjking Jul 21, 2010 11:36am

reid agreed that they could vote on 4 amendments and the republicans agreed.

Coburn filed a motion to suspend the rule so that the amendments could be voted on immediately.

you can watch this live at

dwcstmdznr 07/21/2010 11:57am

Do we need yeses or nos

trynghard63 07/21/2010 11:59am
in reply to dwcstmdznr Jul 21, 2010 11:57am

We are needing No’s

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.

BrandiWY 07/21/2010 12:00pm
in reply to mkjking Jul 21, 2010 11:59am


Abaratarrr 07/21/2010 12:01pm
in reply to mkjking Jul 21, 2010 11:59am

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

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