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A New Bill for 99ers, But Is It Too Late?

December 19, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

With very few days left in the 111th session of Congress, Rep. Barbara Lee [D, CA-9] and Rep. Bobby Scott [D, VA-3], both members of the Congressional Black Caucus, have introduced new legislation to provide relief to unemployed workers who have exhausted all available insurance benefits and are still unemployed (i.e. the “99ers”). The bill, H.R. 6556, would not add a fifth tier of federal benefits. Instead, it would extend the length of the first tier of benefits from 20 weeks to 34 weeks and allow 99ers to collect the additional 14 weeks retroactively.

The introduction of this bill is not necessarily a sign of progress for getting relief for 99ers from Congress. Any member of Congress can introduce any bill they want on any topic. They don’t need approval from party leadership. They simply draft a bill, drop it in a box, and it’s considered pending before Congress. The real work is advocacy. Members who are serious about their bills lobby their colleagues to become co-sponsors, push their bills in committee hearings and floor speeches, and support the work of grassroots groups that are fighting for the same cause.

It’s unclear if Reps. Lee and Scott are serious about getting this passed, but even if they are, the bill faces enormous odds.

Right now, it appears that the Congress is planning to adjourn the session on Wednesday. It’s possible for them to come back after Christmas, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid [D, NV] has said that he is willing to stay in session until Jan. 5th if necessary, but, unless they fail to resolve any items this week that they consider “must-pass,” it’s unlikely.

Normally, bills are approved by committees before they get a vote on the floor. Given the time constraints, that’s clearly not possible with this bill. The only way for this to move in the legislative process at this point would be for the House Rules Committee to decide it is a privileged matter that should be put on the House calendar directly without prior committee approval. The Rules Committee is closely connected to the House leadership and generally considered an extension of the Speaker of the House, so this is really in the hands of Rep. Nancy Pelosi [D, CA-8]. To date, Pelosi has never specifically advocated for or pushed legislation to help people who have exhausted their unemployment benefits.

Ninety percent of bills die in the committees they were referred to upon introduction, and that’s the most likely outcome for this bill. But let’s imagine for a second what’s likely to happen if somehow that’s not the case.

If the bill gets to the House floor, it’s possible that it could be supported by a majority and passed. The House hasn’t been the chamber delaying unemployment benefits extensions these pays few years, it’s always been the Senate. Republicans in the Senate have consistently filibustered extensions of the filing deadline for the existing 99 weeks of unemployment benefits because they think they should be offset with corresponding spending cuts. According to the information posted by Rep. Scott, this bill does not include an offset. There’s no reason to think the Republicans’ position would be any different with this bill. In fact, it could be worse. Some Republicans have subscribed to the theory that unemployment benefits discourage people from looking for new jobs, so their opposition to adding additional weeks might be stronger than it is for just extending the filing deadline for the current level of weeks. Senate Democrats would need at least two Republicans to vote with them to break a filibuster on this bill. Without an offset, there’s no way that would happen.

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Displaying 1-30 of 41 total comments.

  • DeborahJBrown 12/20/2010 2:22am

    So in other words — this is just an illusion, a fake attempt to make it appear as if someone is doing something. What a waste of time that is.

  • JudyE 12/20/2010 3:13am

    I agree with you DeborahJ. They are trying to make themselves look good after leaving us 99er’s out in the cold. They all had their chance along with the President and none of them, absolutely none of them did a thing. So, here we are days before Christmas and no money for food, gas, rent let alone anything for the children in our lives. But, the rest of the country goes on as if all is fine. Well you all just wait while the number of 99er’s increases week by week. Don’t come crying when crime, suicide, foreclosures and much more increase. Merry Christmas, what ever.

  • poolplayer 12/20/2010 3:50am

    The sad part is,the 99er’s are not counted as employed or unemployed.We are just in some sort of limbo area.We are also not included in the unemployment rate so it’s easy to just be left out in the cold.Why would they care about us if we’re not even counted?They will have to consider us soon because soon alot of people will exhaust their weeks up to 99.What then?We will be forced to start over with a job that can’t support our mortgages and families.That’s even if companies will even hire us because we are “overqualified”.What an excuse not to hire someone.It’s almost discriminatory in my opinion.I would get an entry level job if it meant I could progress!

  • Comm_reply
    DSWants2Work 12/20/2010 10:54am

    I agree with you poolplayer. I have been trying to get jobs in my old field of graphic design, which I am completely disinterested in now, but I would still take one just to work and pay my bills. I have also been trying to find entry level jobs in other careers just to feel purpose again (as well as to figure out what next to do with my career) even though those salaries would never pay my mortgage and other misc bills. I get the overqualified excuse all the time. I feel what is really going on is that employers have so many resumes to choose from they can bide their time with their choices, at least get an intern. I currently have no job in sight and about two months worth of bills left in my savings and then I don’t know what I am going to do. Those fourteen weeks could really help.

  • Comm_reply
    badams82 12/21/2010 10:05am

    After, all the freaking student loans and degrees now we can’t even get a decent job that will actually pay the bills. This is madness!Hopefully they will pass something ASAP!

  • wstaff 12/20/2010 3:59am

    I agree with Mrs.Brown and JudyE. The 2% employer tax cut should have had a stipulation that its only good if you hire additional employees. I can not stress enough how much I have been laughed at when applying for work, simply put Employers look down on anyone that is on unemployment. When it looks as tho I secured a job the last question I was asked, “Are you unemployed” was answered with a yes,some how the job was not available any longer. It is not that I have not been trying to find work, it is that nobody is hiring people like me on unemployment. I am tired of living with family in a car and looking for hand outs. I never in my 30 + years every thought I would become homeless.

  • JudyE 12/20/2010 4:12am

    Seems to me that the biggest majority of 99er’s are shall I say older Americans. Me included. How fitting. Hang in there wstaff, I am praying for you it is all I can offer.

  • wstaff 12/20/2010 4:13am

    poolplayer-your right. I had 4 months to go on my BA in criminal Justice and because I have no job,lost all my benefits I was forced to quit school because I could not afford 275.00 to continue my classes. Seems as tho even trying to get a degree in hopes to improve your life does not work either. The overqualified (new tactic)employers use is a smoke screen. You would think in order to maintain a well established business (over qualified) would help sub-stain the companies interest. Why not call it(Your to Educated For Us)? Probably the truth hurts,that is why. First Time in 30+ year I have felt so belittled by fellow Americans and to think I gave 12 + years in serving this country.Yeah me, 12+ years in the military so I can now feel like this. Shame on You America’s Congress!!!!!

  • Comm_reply
    NavyVet81 12/21/2010 7:19pm

    Isn’t it ridiculous!!? I feel horribly for what people are going through. Up until I recently landed a federal job it’s still damn sad people work their whole lives to have the door slammed in their face. I heard that overqualified crap and I’m not even 30 yet so I could imagine what someone who is 35+ feeling!!! These low paying jobs don’t want to higher people like 99ers or those with careers because they know if a better offer came we’d be gone! A person fresh out of high school has a better opportunity to get a job than people with experience.

  • Abaratarrr 12/20/2010 4:20am

    PEople, the governemtn has to pass a budget by tuesday r the government shuts down!! they will not let that happen, we need a handful of democrats to refuse to pass that bill unless 6556 or 3706 is added to the bill, We can do this we just need to perter the bejesus out of congress,

    Onto the hones I go, Call nancy pelosi several times aday, call the white house and all of your onw states reps, CALL, CALL, CALL, we can do this.

    Let them know that the lateset extension did nothing for the long term unemployed. Tell them you are hungrey

    Please be nice we want them to want to help us.

    Thank you Donny for being quick to report on this bill

  • codemoney 12/20/2010 4:21am

    The reality is that politicians will gladly tell you that they ‘feel your pain’ but will not do a thing about it. This congress doesn’t care and the next congress REALLY doesn’t care. Their opinion is that the 99ers are just a buncha lazy welfare rats who should just dielike the surplus population they are. Nevermind that the Welfare Rat Rate (WRR) (AKA Unemployment rate) suddenly doubled one year and it just happened to correspond with the financial collapse (who are not welfare rats … but sure seemed to have gotten a lot of welfare).

  • wstaff 12/20/2010 4:21am

    JudyE- Thank you. At least on the upside we the 99er’s have each other no matter how lonely it gets. Will have many more joining our ranks. What then 1000ers as a new Label? I do not hear any congress men or woman offering to invite us into their home for the holidays. What a bunch of (will feed you more b.s. just to feel good about ourselves). I love watching others cheer and bring in the holidays…. makes me feel very American.

  • Checkless 12/20/2010 4:52am

    We have to continue to have a positive outlook and believe that H.R. 6556 bill will be approved. We can’t give up now.

    Thanks to Roz Zurko for writing this article in the Examiner-Hartford

  • Ktula7 12/20/2010 5:21am

    I’m 41 years old and have worked my butt off my whole life. I’m not wealthy, and certainly not getting wealthy on unemployment benefits. But when I was working, I was doing much better. I felt much better. I’ve got three children to support and tomorrow I will receive my last $300 check for unemployment 5 days before Christmas. I look for work daily to no avail. I’ve interviewed and then I heard that they hired someone who spoke Spanish to better serve their diverse needs. So there you have it! I’m an American, English speaking citizen, and lost a job to someone who was from another country. I know I’m getting off track, but if you want your American jobs back…lets create a bill for illegal immigration. This country is out of control!!

  • Iamamerican33 12/20/2010 8:14am

    Don’t ever give up people… go to Mrs. Pelosi’s web site and leave a message of appreciation for anything that she or Harry Reid can do for us by taking notice of bill H.R.6556 and tucking it under their wing and supporting help needed for the 99ers. Speak honestly but respectfully, for no one listens to whining or threats. Just remind her that the 99ers have been left at the bus stop and someone needs to send a bus back …for us.

  • Comm_reply
    chunchuna 12/27/2010 8:25am

    Not fair… Immigration Reform has nothing to do with this…

    I am as American as you are, came to this country with my parents when I was 14 in 1971 LEGALLY AS A RESIDENT, grew up and went to High School and College in NYC. I speak fluent Spanish and Italian and still cannot get a job. 2 years ago both my husband and my son lost their jobs… They are now 99ers.. No more benefits, but still have to pay student loans, car payments… Our home is in Foreclosure and our 800+ credit score may not even be half of that now…
    For the first time in my life I applied for Food Stamps.. I never in my worst nightmares thought we would come to this… Yet, here we are…
    People will not even look at my resume, as soon as they see the year I graduated they know I am over 50 and I also get the “overqualified” BS, that is if I even get an answer…

  • Checkless 12/20/2010 9:59am

    I want to continue to have a positive outlook regarding this bill. I am praying that this is the answer to our prayers. However, I don’t want to be sold an unrealistic idea with false hopes. We don’t need anymore wolves in sheep clothing.

    If this article is true – then we’re being duped.—-Cynical-Unemployment-Extension-Benefits-Ploy.aspx

  • Tx99er 12/20/2010 10:48am

    Mike Colliss over at all247news pulls no punches on what he thinks of the bill “Bluntly put, it seems almost certain that, given the intention of the House to adjourn by Wednesday at the very latest there simply is not enough time for Representative Lee’s bill to be considered.”

  • nancym 12/20/2010 11:43am

    They’d need an offset? So give them an offset, jeez. Take any of those egregious elements that just went through the big tax cut bill and trim one down a fraction, like for example the big ethanol tax credit, or that rum refinery that will be built with taxpayer money, in Puerto Rico I think it was, courtesy of the rum tax extender. (I’m not joking, go see Taxpayers for Common Sense for all the gory details of the bill, or check them out on CSPAN’s morning segment for today.)

    Seems it would be to Pelosi’s political advantage to have the country watch as Republicans vote down a standalone bill for help for the jobless just after giving millionaire’s their cool holiday gifts.

  • wendya1972 12/20/2010 2:52pm

    It would stand a better chance if it were offset, it would give it a chance in January when the Republicans take over the house.

  • comments11660 12/20/2010 3:30pm

    Stories of the unemployed remind me of a time so long ago when a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes was laid in a manger. There was no room for Him in the Inn. He was born that night so long ago so He could give His life to shed His blood to cover our sins so we could stand before the Lord God Almighty spotless before the throne of God on our day of reckoning our day of judgement.

    I know these words don’t seem to pay the bills but He is the hope of this God forsaken world and this Christmas He is your hope as well, He is my hope too and I am trusting in Him to make a way for a job since this Congress and President have proven their incompetence to improve our economy making jobs or to make unemployment available to those who just want to work. Please know you are in my prayers for jobs.

  • UnemployedWorkersActionGroup 12/20/2010 4:35pm

    This is just more B.S. from Democrats who are playing politics with 99ers lives. They know full well this bill cannot possibly pass and in January it’s a dead bill. They should be ashamed of themselves!

  • 99erCA 12/20/2010 6:52pm

    This bill is a simple act of political gain, just like the dream act, and DADT. I would rather have a bill that creates jobs, tax incentives, training programs, instead of me having to ask dad for allowance. I need my independence back. Tier 6

  • SunshineHybrid 12/20/2010 6:56pm

    Well lets look at the facts. Republicans just want the 99ers to go away, even if they have to die to do so. I don’t know if the Democrats have a strategy or not. But the voters thought the Republicans could do some good.
    But I do believe that people will take notice to everything they say and do and in 2 years when there is another election it will be hardpressed for a Republican to retain their office. The people in the US are fed up with idol promises and those who think they own the world because they are rich. It would not surprise me if in the next two years that there is a revolt. I wish everyone would go to the Republican home and those who decide not to vote and camp out in their front yard. Let their children see the desperation that has been caused by them.

  • 99erCA 12/20/2010 6:56pm

    But also, I commend the Black Caucus for making a stand for the never ending cycle of opportunity vs. being born into wealth. There is a form of discrimination going on here, and there nothing legally we could do about it.

  • craines 12/21/2010 1:58am

    I seen that the housing marketing will probably double dip and turn down and lose another ONE TRILLION DOLLARS because of the unemployed. basically the 99er’s!

    This should get there attention, but by then the damage will be done, American family’s will be destroyed. 99ers have to keep the pressure on, politicians believe because they extended the basic UI that they can kick this can down the road for 13 months,

    Don’t let up on them, remember the squeaky WHEEL gets the grease. DEMAND JOBS
    that pay. The entire nation turned RED, which means the jobs the republican Governor’s create … will be LOW PAYING NON-UNION JOBS.

    They’ll push the Right-to-Work law and say unions are the reason we cant compete.
    UNIONS MEMBERS only make up around 15% of the work force now and we are only 50%
    employed. Half are members are starving because of lack of work.

    We need good paying jobs – union jobs

  • Checkless 12/21/2010 6:26am

    The silence is erie. As of 11:24 a.m. (CST) there is no new information on H.R. 6556 on the internet. I hope that all of the hype yesterday wasn’t any early April fool’s joke.

  • Comm_reply
    Abaratarrr 12/21/2010 8:23am

    they did the same thing right before thanks giving with 3706, they do this just so people will not bug them during their vacation. They do not want people protesting in front of their houses on Christmas. We would have been protesting in front of their homes on thanksgiving had 3706 not been introduced, can they fool us twice?

    Just a game to them. They think we are stupid

  • badams82 12/21/2010 10:19am

    It’s, a shame that we are viewed by them as nothing but simple statistics/numbers versus human beings who are in desperate need of help. Stats and numbers dehumanize the reality that we have to face on a daily basis. They, are not up at night wondering if they will be able to feed their kids or pay the water bill. They do not deprive themselves from food so that their children can eat. They, are not walking around trying to keep it together, holding back the tears because you just don’t know How on Earth you will get through this! Maybe there will be a X-mas miracle and some will develop a conscious and do the right thing for us.

  • CounterReversePsyOp 12/21/2010 11:04pm

    Check out INFOWARSdotCom and listen to the daily show on your computer, just click on the: listen now or windows media on the top right hand of the page for a nonpartisan,secular talk radio show that is not big corporate main stream media propaganda.

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