OpenCongress Blog

Blog Feed Comments Feed More RSS Feeds

GOP Blocks Unemployment Extension Again, But Do They Even Know What They're Blocking?

December 2, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

By now it’s a familiar story. Senate Democrats call for a unanimous consent agreement on passing legislation to extend unemployment insurance benefits and a single Republican stand up and objects, blocking the bill from passing on behalf of the entire party. It happened on Tuesday and it happened gains yesterday, this time with Sen. John Barrasso [R, WY] doing the GOP’s dirty work.

On one level this is the same as ever. Republicans want any unemployment extension to be paid for by rescinding funds from the stimulus and Democrats want to fund the extension with deficit spending in order to get the maximum stimulus effect. What was especially troubling about today’s Senate floor action is that it gave us more evidence that, in the midst of an unemployment crisis, some members of Congress may be confused on the basics of federal benefits extensions.

Arthur Delaney at Huffington Post reports:

Wyoming Republican Sen. John Barrasso blocked a request to reauthorize extended unemployment benefits on Thursday, saying a better way to help the unemployed would be to improve the economy by giving “certainty” to businesses on taxes.

“This is about people who have been collecting unemployment benefits for 99 weeks,” said Barrasso, describing the bill he just blocked.

Except he wasn’t describing it. The bill Democrats have been pushing is for a yearlong reauthorization of two programs called Emergency Unemployment Compensation and Extended Benefits, which combined provide up to 73 weeks of benefits in some states. Those programs lapsed this week, meaning people laid off through no fault of their own are now eligible for just 26 weeks of state-funded benefits.

If the lapsed benefits are reauthorized, some unemployed will once again be eligible for up to 99 weeks of benefits — but not any more.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) interrupted Barrasso to correct him. “I just want you to understand that this extension is not for anything beyond 99 weeks,” she said. “We do not have any extension beyond 99 weeks. I just wanted my friend to know that.”

“I appreciate the comments from the senator from California,” Barrasso said.

Barrasso made the same mistake describing unemployment legislation in an interview with PBS on Wednesday evening. “Right now we have benefits for people who are out of work up to 99 weeks so this goes beyond that,” he said. (Barrasso said he supported extending unemployment, just with a Republican bill that offset the cost of the benefits with spending cuts.

Let’s clear this up. For the past two years or so, unemployed workers have been eligible for up to 99 weeks of benefits depending on the unemployment rate of their state. Now that Congress has allowed federal benefits to lapse, the maximum duration that anyone in any state can receive benefits is 26 weeks. The average length of unemployment right now is 34 weeks, so most people who lose their jobs now would go for two months or so without government assistance before they find another job.

The bill Democrats keep bringing up on the floor, S.3981, would restore the up to 73 additional weeks of benefits. It would not add additional weeks beyond the 99 that has been the status quo. It would simply make it possible for people who became unemployed more recently than 99 weeks ago and still haven’t found a job to collect benefits for the same length of time as people who lost their job more than 99 weeks ago.

Democrats argue that this makes sense given that the Federal Reserve is now projecting that the unemployment rate will stay pretty much where it is for all of 2011. Some Democrats are pushing to add weeks beyond the 99 — a bill, S.3706, has been introduced to that effect — but so far the debate has focused on restoring the 99 weeks, not adding more.

Sen. Barrasso is pictured above.

Like this post? Stay in touch by following us on Twitter, joining us on Facebook, or by Subscribing with RSS.


Displaying 1-30 of 49 total comments.

  • poolplayer 12/03/2010 3:19am

    I still can’t believe people voted for these guys.But of course they chose Barrasso to do the dirty work.His state has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country.I believe it’s only 7.8%.But still,how would the unemployed people of that state react to know that their elected official is not caring about what they NEED.Making them suffer so they could get their precious tax cuts.The GOP doesn’t care about anyone that can’t benefit THEM!And now we put them back in control!The GOP needs a wake up call on what needs to be done.We tried the trickle down from the wealthy with the Bush tax cuts and look where that got us,unemployed and soon to be homeless!SPEAK UP AMERICA!!!We need better legislation than this.Sad part is,people will still vote for them because they don’t know any better.

  • Comm_reply
    tomjw 12/03/2010 10:55am

    he is from many people live even if the unemployment rate is low,how many people are really affected by what he does.i am from new york and soon there will probably be more people unemployed in this state then even live in wyoming!!just saying that its the amount of people affected by his vote,he doesnt see any real ramifications for his state.after all arent these guys only concered with what their constituents see them do.and they are probably all rich ranchers that put him in office.

  • Comm_reply
    badams82 12/03/2010 5:19pm

    Greed has a way of surpassing common sense and morality.Hopefully, everyone that voted the GOP back is getting the message loud and clear! GOP supports the top 2% of Americans, meaning the Wealthy. Now, all of you unemployed voters that voted for GOP Pay attention and see what you voted for. They are not on your side they are not fighting for you they do not care! Yet, if you become a part of that 2% then please feel privileged because then you will have them on your side. They will have your back! Yet, while you are unemployed don’t even dream about first you have to make your way up to that 2% before they fight for you.

  • njvixen 12/03/2010 3:20am

    This is such BS. People in NJ are saying it’s the Dems denying the unemployed extended benefits. I wish that they would educate themselves and see that it is and always has been the GOP. Always for the rich not for the working man. WTF.

  • Rationalview 12/03/2010 3:36am

    Because they have somehow equated themselves with the average small business man, the public has suddenly been misled into thinking that the Rebublican ticket is their way to go – guess what – there really is NO Joe the plumber. Barrasso has no idea what he is talking about – never took the time to educate himself because it doesn’t affect him – and the public has jumped onto the band GOP bandwagon hearing only lower taxes – but, at what price do these lower taxes come?

  • Nodlee87 12/03/2010 3:53am

    This is what they are blocking….

  • Nodlee87 12/03/2010 3:59am

    And blocking this,

  • craines 12/03/2010 4:28am

    It’s amazing they are not extending any benefits to the 99er’s, It very clear work has dried up for constructions workers and everyone else is not hiring. 2011 looks really bad. 99ers have gone through all there savings and are living by the seat of there paints.

    These benefits should include the 99er’s, our JOB Situation has not improved, it has gotten worse. I agree 99 weeks is too long to collect unemployment, but there’s NO WORK ANYWHERE IN THE COUNTRY FOR CONSTRUCTION WORKERS.

    When your collecting unemployment your are not contributing to your Pension plan, your are not vesting your hours to add to your retirement and you don’t have any health insurance.

    It is counterproductive to collect unemployment for any construction worker.
    A lot of 99er’s are in this field. 99er’s need to be included in these unemployment


  • Abaratarrr 12/03/2010 4:31am

    Something that is weird about the funding of unemployment benefits issue, so far the only unemployment extension enacted under Obama that added more weeks of unemployment(3548) was fully paid for by an extension of a federal tax ,that was set to expire in 2009, for 10 years, i do not understand why Obama paid for the last one but will not consider paying for another one. Looks like political games to me.

    They keep saying that historically unemployment is paid for by emergency spending but this administration has never passed an extension as emergency spending, they paid for 3548 with a federal tax on employers. There has not been additional weeks of unemployment benefits added that was not funded since the bush administration.

  • Comm_reply
    poolplayer 12/03/2010 12:24pm

    Why are you blaming Obama?Apparently,it is not clear enough to you that it’s the GOP (republicans)that are blocking this so they can get tax cuts for the wealthy.Believe me,Obama couldn’t sign the bill fast enough as he has done so in the past.Pay close attention, Abaratarrr, to what legislation is doing about this!And I hope you weren’t one of the many who were fooled into blaming Democrats and voted Republican (though I fear you are).And FYI,Tea Party executives are trying to make property owners the only people who would be allowed to vote (Tea Partyers are pro Republican,another FYI).So when it’s voting time,take that into consideration before you make a fatal mistake!!!

  • Comm_reply
    Abaratarrr 12/04/2010 12:10am

    I did not blame Obama for anything, I was just stating facts as they are documented on opencongress, why are you attacking me?

    what does tea party have to do with anything i said?

    I am really confused as to what your argument is, are you arguing that 3548 (the only unemployment extension adding weeks under Obama) was not fully funded by extending a federal tax? You can read the bill its write here on opencongress.

    If i am somehow not catching were you think i have posted something that is not true please more specific, if I made an error i will correct it and apologize.

  • Comm_reply
    DON886 12/04/2010 10:41am

    This whole vote was a stunt by Democrats to try and make the Republicans look bad and they knew the liberal press (MSNBC) will always let them get away with it. All this stuff is being negotiated and will be combined in one bill later this month. Democratic leaders knew that the Rpublicans will not vote for it until after the final negoiated deal, do this vote was all for show anyway, only about politics.

  • wishiwasnta99er 12/03/2010 4:57am

    What kills me is the fact that they still haven’t added a 5th tier for us 99ers! Are we not Americans too?! Why do they think its alright to sweep us under the rug?! I haven’t received benefits in 6 months and I STILL don’t have a job! I WANT to work!! But their isn’t any work out there!!!!! They need to stop playing around with our lives! THEY NEED TO EXTEND UNEMPLOYMENT AND ADD THAT 5TH TIER!!!!!! SO ALL UNEMPLOYED AMERICANS CAN HAVE SOME RELIEF!!!!!!!!

  • eavina30 12/03/2010 4:58am

    I’m starting to think that some of these Senators and Congress people are out of touch with reality and the fact that they are up in there in age affects there decision making as well as there deliberating process. Slow. Picture your grand parents deciding your faith and future, oh wait it’s actually real. Tier 5 to survive or give em hell. 99ers unite!!!!!

  • Comm_reply
    poolplayer 12/03/2010 12:29pm

    I couldn’t agree with you more!Problem is,everyone keeps voting for them!Make your voice be heard and tell all you can.Show them what they are doing!I made a post (on another site and tried on Facebook)about this very subject.I think that there should be a limited amount of terms for Representatives.They can always take on a younger interm to carry out his/her ideals,don’t you think?

  • jlb8304 12/03/2010 5:25am

    Republicans make me sick. They align themselves with the working class and the Christian faith to get the vote and then throw the blue collars and their religion in the trash when they vote. I’m planning on taking a picture of my daughter in a cardboard box and sending it to my lovely representative Jack Kingston (R-GA) to tell him thank you for her brand new house that she got for Christmas. No, I never voted for him, but everyone else does because Hannity told them to on the radio…since him and FOX News are the only political informants around here. I’m only on my initial benefit period, but it runs out very soon.

  • Comm_reply
    poolplayer 12/03/2010 12:34pm

    It is sad the propogandists like Hannity and Limbaugh get all the press.They aligned themselves with GOP is because they are part of the wealthy and they know that’s what the GOP is for.They only want to benefit those that can benefit them.

  • victorwalk2 12/03/2010 5:56am

    The politicians who voted against the extension can bail out Wall St. who made most of this financial mess but don’t want to bail out people who have worked in corporations and companies, etc. and having then having our jobs done away with. Well I have only been on regular unemployment benefits and as of November 28th this would have been my first extension. The extension keeps getting blocked as I continue to look for work. Do they really think that most people on UC are sitting around like they are on vacation. Please it is not a lot of money.I paid into the fund for over 30 years and I can only receive not even a fraction of what I paid in while seeking employment. Some of these politicians don’t care nor are they educated on the bill they are voting against. They are blowing hot air while people who are depending on UC to live will only have air in their empty stomachs. Today this is happening to someone else tomorrow it can be you.

  • 530i 12/03/2010 6:04am

    Let’s not lose perspective here. Unemployment benefits come from state funds. States are (nearly) out of money and not permitted to create deficits like the Federal Government can. The Federal Government has no business being involved at all (another example of overstepping their charter). I feel bad for the jobless, I’ve been there before, but until Congress can at least find a way to PAY for benefit extensions with cuts or tax hikes, they should not be offering extensions beyond what states programs offer. Printing money or borrowing from the Chinese is enslaving future generations (our children). Republicans want the Federal funds flowing to the state unemployment programs to be paid for, rather than printed or borrowed, that is why they are blocking it. Stop trying to demonize them on this, unless, of course, transferring the misery of debt onto future generations so no one has to suffer now, is fine with you – then by all means, let the money printing and borrowing continue.

  • Comm_reply
    tomjw 12/03/2010 9:59am

    when you lose you job ,which may happen at any time ,if this economy gets any worse you will whistle a different tune

  • Comm_reply
    poolplayer 12/03/2010 12:44pm

    Really?!Then why will they not do anything until they get their Bush tax cuts?Think about it.They don’t want tax hikes at all.A 1% tax hike does not really affect common people,but it adds up when it comes to the wealthy.And if you read,they want to cut taxes and still expect to come up with a plan to pay with everything.Tell me something,if we can’t pay for programs like 2 wars and the deficit with what is currently coming in,what will less do?I would be more than happy to pay 1% more tax across the board because it doesn’t cost me that much (because I don’t make a lot LOL) if it meant that it would benefit the Country.But your precious GOP legislation wouldn’t!

  • beenblue 12/03/2010 6:13am

    Spending money we don`t have ??? Well how is it that the Gov`t can spend 194 million per day on the war in Afghanistan, where`s the outrage over that !!!

  • 530i 12/03/2010 6:31am

    That’s a looters rational. Other people are getting away with deficit spending, so that becomes the accepted (looters) norm. Two wrongs still don’t make a right. Personally I think we don’t belong there except for support and humanitarian efforts, but at least war is a function of the Federal Government, unlike funding state unemployment benefits.

  • Comm_reply
    poolplayer 12/03/2010 12:54pm

    It must be nice to have a comfortable job!If you haven’t heard,Federal Government is supposed to help in emergency situations and this is considered an emergency.Fellow Americans didn’t want to lose their jobs.Corporate “fat cats” made us lose them because we weren’t spending our money on them.So now we are back to Bush tax cuts (which obviously didn’t work) to further their wallet (and possibly yours by the sound of things).So honestly,I consider you the looter.Maybe you tell me where you work and what you do so I can get you fired so you know how it feels?

  • Comm_reply
    Dantheman581 12/04/2010 3:07pm

    Your wrong his point was showing you the character of the republicans, they have no problem adding to the defecit to kill innocent foreignors but not to feed americans. 53 cents of every dollar is spent for the defence industry welfare program. Wake the F up. And just an FYI illegal wars are not part of the fed.

  • beenblue 12/03/2010 6:55am

    This is unbelievable that the nation is going broke, and the republicans nor the democrats bring up defense spending, it`s like a taboo. While Americans are being forced on to the streets, and homeless shelters, the Gov`t is more concerned with it`s nifty little wars, and how to fund them. Ever notice that the people in Washington never bring up deficit spending on this matter. If we can blow up city`s a half a world away, and spend money to rebuild them, I don`t understand why we can`t find the money to fund unemployment, just build a few less bombs, and hire legal contractors to work for the Gov`t who have to complete their jobs before being paid. THIS IS RIDICULOUS, AND I`M TIRED OF THE PROPAGANDA ON THE NECESSITY OF WAR, AND HOW IT GOES UNQUESTIONED AS WE GO HUNGRY!!

  • 530i 12/03/2010 7:08am

    Just have all the unemployed join the military! Employment problem solved! :-)
    The fact that Obama can’t/won’t end or significantly reduce the military operations in the Middle-East, makes me believe a lot of the “military-industrial complex” conspiracy theories I’ve heard for so long.

  • Comm_reply
    beenblue 12/03/2010 7:25am

    Like the Viet Nam war , no president want`s to be labeled “The Looser”, and since we don`t have a draft anymore, but we do have an employment problem, the military runs adds in the job section of the classifieds. Wars create revenue for the Fed, Banks, and the defense contractors, and two thirds of the Gov`t revenues go to the Pentagon. The ally`s are leaving the middle east as they realize they can`t afford a long term commitment ( that`s smart ) my point is neither can we.

  • Comm_reply
    poolplayer 12/03/2010 12:58pm

    And how many unemployed do you think would be able to qualify for the military?What do you propose the 40 and over workers that lost their jobs through no falult of their own (except faith that their company would give them a job) do?

  • MR4891 12/03/2010 7:16am

    Buckminster Fuller called it “the great socialism avoiding subterfuge.” In the 30s and 40s we saw that federal spending benefits the economy. But for the feds to put people to work directly, like they did with infrastructure projects in the New Deal, that’s called Un-American. Our public feels that military expenses are justified, however, so there’s always money for war and war for money while our public sector (and our public) rots.

Due to the archiving of this blog, comment posting has been disabled.