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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 1-30 of 395 total comments.

  • HGAH_7 07/20/2010 10:02am


  • Comm_reply
    taxthis 07/20/2010 11:03am

    Yes, thank you Jesus. But please, hgah, let us not forget about Jesus when he tipped the table over in the temple when he was so angry with the moneytakers. I am not a heartless person but I will never ever forget any persons name that voted nay on this issue. I hope any person that was affected by this does not cast a yes vote in november just because they are affiliated with a party. This situation that I and many other former working americans should never had happened. thank you for your post. Jesus will not fail us but dont count on all politicians.

  • Comm_reply
    retched 07/20/2010 11:42am

    I am pretty much content on saying that any dem or republican who full well knowingly voted Nay in either issue and threw a defense of “We’re doing his so our kids won’t have to pay for it in the future” are REALLY looking at having their seats removed.

    Not to say that this won’t cause a issue further down the line but to throw up that as a reason of saying no… is pretty much circular logic. How can parents put food on the tables when their best efforts to get a job fail and UI benefits was all that was left? How can their be a future generation if the current generation can’t provide for them?

  • Comm_reply
    taxthis 07/20/2010 4:49pm

    Good luck and god bless you.

  • Comm_reply
    roswil 07/20/2010 12:06pm

    I agree with taxthis! Let’s not forget the power of our Lord Jesus..Amen!

  • Comm_reply
    bobbybixler 07/21/2010 2:47pm

    Before you get too excited (and I’m in the same boat), just remember that it only goes to November, and most the jobs lost are NOT coming back according to most economists. Companies are content with working people 60-80 hours a week now and keeping the profits (read not investing). Plus, most of the jobs are being offset by technology, outsourcing overseas, shift in what people are buying, etc. I shudder at what is coming for most of us by the end of the year. Use your money wisely people, use it wisely. God help us all…we are about to enter the land of the haves and the have nots, just like most third world countries.

  • Comm_reply

    It seems like a moot point for this extension when eventually most of us will become 99ers come a few short months from now but my mother who is a retired and is 75 years old (I am unemployed single mom living with her parent) made an interesting point. She thinks that Obama will probably present additional(s) extension that will come out of the Federal monies and not monies that will arguable :)lol come from monies that would add to the defict that all the Republicans have been screaming about.

  • teajay33 07/20/2010 10:03am

    that took long enough. about time someone started looking out for us.

  • Comm_reply
    peterr 07/20/2010 12:17pm


  • RichardStone 07/20/2010 10:04am

    I have a suggestion for the Senators: Ban the use of the phrase: “My Good Friend”, or “My Friend”, Or any other derivation of this-I bet they could reduce the time wasted by about one half of what is wasted with these guy’s “BS’ing Each Other” ! What do you think?

  • Comm_reply
    taxthis 07/20/2010 11:15am

    I think: I agree with you so much. These people could care less about one another , you ,or me. The games people play now,every night and every day now, never meaning what they say now ,never saying what they mean. Remember?

  • Comm_reply
    peterr 07/20/2010 11:58am


  • Comm_reply
    peterr 07/20/2010 12:09pm

    BERNIE MADOFF AIN’T got S@#$ on some of the games the people we have IN OUR GOVERNMENT, GO FIGURE….

  • Drewbot78 07/20/2010 10:05am

    Luckily I have already somehow managed to take yet another $100 a month off my budget. so now I will only be getting $668 a month. YEAH im milking this easy street here RIGHT????
    P.S. $50 a month is to NOT put away my monthly car insurance money…guess im not insured in 4 months from now YAY easy street is soooooo easy.

  • MrHappy 07/20/2010 10:07am

    I will believe it when I see the back pay. I hope it is soon, been a long five weeks.

  • Comm_reply
    comments5647 07/21/2010 9:16am

    It can’t be soon enough…

  • katori81 07/20/2010 10:07am


  • PPearson 07/20/2010 10:08am

    Finally! It is good to finally get this on the road to being resolved. It is a shame about the abandonment of the COBRA assistance. That has been a real lifeline for so many. The damage that has been done by this Republican fiasco will leave scars for years. People have lost too much while Nero fiddled. I only hope that people remember at election time.

  • fa2010 07/20/2010 10:08am

    Anyone here from FL? Need clarification – According to the Lowery article FL will not get the EUC b/c FL statue has June 5th the last day to be able to establish claims for extended benefits. However, the June 5th date is for STATE EB, correct, NOT EUC? I really don’t want to get all excited about this then have Florida screw us all out of the EUC :-(

  • juju39567 07/20/2010 10:10am

    Donny Shaw i want to thank you for your excellent reporting on congress and specifically this topic. If it wasnt for you we would of all stayed in the dark and i know for my own situation this blog has helped me mentally get through this very tough time. Thanks to all the members here for your words of encouragement ive enjoyed the discussions this will be my site from now on to figure out what these arrogant politicians are up to (or not as the case may be)

  • GodisGreat44 07/20/2010 10:14am

    PRAISE JESUS! PRAISE OUR LORD!! This is amazing and I’m praying for support as soon as possible. Our great and powerful God is so amazing and we are BLESSED to have someone on our side like Him!! Keep praying everyone and we will see the blessings that we deserve.

  • trynghard63 07/20/2010 10:18am

    I wonder how soon we cant start expecting the money. I think I was told to wait and do nothing untill I got forms in the mail to fill out, mail them back and wait..

  • Comm_reply
    mgb 07/21/2010 6:51am

    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.

  • kapachupi1012 07/20/2010 10:23am

    “Unemployed Americans Rejoice!! “THE UNEMPLOYED AWAITING THE PASSAGE OF THIS BILL DIDN’T WANT A HAND OUT, ONLY A HAND UP” Thank You Thank You Jesus our Lord and Saviour and for every Democrat who voted in favor and a special thanks to Sen. Susan Collins [R, ME] and Sen. Olympia Snowe [R, ME], who crossed the lines to vote for us suffering americans who have lost their jobs thru no fault of their own.

  • Iamamerican33 07/20/2010 10:24am

    Thank you. thank you, thank you! This wait should have never happened but I am thankful we have SOME people who are aware that being unemployed in America, “The Land Of Opportunity” is a shame and realizes that this is the right thing to do for us and for our failing economy. Now, time to early vote for a Tennessee Democratic Senator.

  • JobRobbed 07/20/2010 10:26am

    Even though it appears the unemployment insurance extension bill will finally pass, let’s not forget how many Senate Republicans & one Sen. Ben Nelson(D) voted against hard working, tax paying Americans when it came down to our modest bailout. Thank you!

  • trynghard63 07/20/2010 10:31am

    Oh I wont forget! I am thrilled that we are going to get our back pay. I hate that we are losing Cobra benifits because my cancer is a pre existing condition and I have to keep medical coverage. But I am so happy I will get to hopefully get my bills caught up, buy a few grocreys and pay all of these back to school fees and supplies and cclothes for my son. Today I feel like God has truly blessed me, This goes through and I get a job offer. Its just so sad for the people who have lost thier lives because of this, lost thier homes, thier families. May God be with us all!

  • Comm_reply
    comments5647 07/20/2010 11:14am

    @trynghard63 I wish your post could be forwarded to every congressman. They have been the cause for unnecessary stress that certainly does not help someone fighting cancer. They all aught to be ashamed! But Praise the Lord for today’s aye voters…

  • Comm_reply
    Ktula7 07/20/2010 11:25am

    May God bless you as well! I will still stay and fight for those who are still without any benefits as I hope all of us do. And I hope that all of us here make them remember the time they forgot about us!! Godspeed!!!

  • OnlyinAmerica 07/20/2010 10:39am

    The bill has not been passed yet. The Senate merely voted to limit debate. One more vote for passage will take place before it goes to the House. Usually the House works late on issues as important as this one. The fight is not over. This merely extends the benfits for a few more months. In November many of us will be faced with the same problem again. What about the 99ers? All of us need to continue to contact our Congressmen and Senators and let them know that the benefits and COBRA need a more long term solution. Only a program creating jobs will have a more lasting effect.

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