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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 31-41 of 41 total comments.

  • seanurse 12/22/2010 7:36am

    hello fellow 99ers. Hoping everyone has a nice christmas. I know we are all let down by the senators lack of action. go to and read the reporters opinion of the 99ers. It’s a very good article. well i went on another interview today to once again be told they were looking for a younger person. I guess I got to realize I may never work again. sad as I have so much to offer. GOD PLEASE GIVE ME DIRECTION IN MY LIFE THIS CHRISTMAS AND THE STRENGH TO CARRY ON YOUR WILL. AMEN

  • Comm_reply
    CounterReversePsyOp 12/22/2010 11:54pm

    I said a prayer for you and I know it will all work out.=)

  • Iamamerican33 12/22/2010 2:02pm

    Just heard Harry Reid wish the house a Merry Christmas. I imagine congress is about to adjourn. However, I have not (today) heard for sure if they are coming back on the 26th or before the 4th of January for any unfinished business as he had mentioned before. I have to give him credit for staying. So many went home days ago. There are still a few days left before the republicans take over. Days which are not actual “holidays”. The congress can be called back into session anytime before Jan 5. It may be too late for Christmas but it is never too late for them to assist the 99ers. Even the republicans cannot forever ignore a country’s crisis such as we have with people’s needs. No matter how hard it gets, I will never give up my positive attitude that eventually we will be seen and heard, for it is not just our situation, it is the COUNTRY’s situation. The more it grows, the more the entire country will feel it’s negative affect. For now, hold tight you family and may peace be yours.

  • Comm_reply
    Iamamerican33 12/22/2010 2:05pm

    that is the “senate” to adjourn… The Congress could be called back in… for it is usually the one to first offer a bill.

  • badams82 12/22/2010 2:19pm

    :-) Hope we have some good news soon. We have to keep some type of faith.

  • badams82 12/22/2010 3:30pm

    Gibbs response regarding the 99er’s was infuriating! What, are we supposed to do while we wait for this magical job creation? Hasn’t, job creation been in the works for how long now?

  • leslie53 12/25/2010 6:29am

    greetings all
    i am not a 99er cause i haven’t had an employee type job in years. not
    a sucessful small business either. i just don’t see how anyone can recieve unemployment for 99 weeks, and wait for a job. at some point you have to realize that its time to go for self. especially when you see your job leave the country. i can see helping a person thru tuff times, that is as long as they realize that the help comes from a finite sourse. the funds for unemployment insurance is not infinite. to me the issue is not extending unemployment, nor is it creating new tech jobs, its bringing the old jobs back from where they took em. we elected the people who deregulated the jobs out the country. we need people in washington who know from experience what it is to sink of swim. most politicos only know s or s at re-election time, people like us know sink or swin everyday…that’s the kind of people we need in dc.

  • RubberBoots 12/25/2010 7:23pm

    The exstention that Obama signed did nothing for these people. It only allowed recently laid off workers to continue past the regular deadline. I in no way think trading these hostages for a tax break for the rich was a good thing as a matter of fact it was an obvious ploy to keep all of Americans temper down against the rich tax break witch threw our national debt even further to the extreme ringer.

    75 percent of Americans do not even vote even as registered voters.

    I hope this is a wake up call for people in this country to vote, because as you see there are villains in congress that finally 10 or so years ago passed a bill to allow 10,000 factory jobs to move over seas under the bush administration. Bushes comment on this was they couldn’t find people to do these jobs butt C’mon, you know the truth. The truth is he couldn’t find people in America willing to work for 50 cents an hour. Many of these so called 99ers have been working any where from 5 to 45 years.

  • Checkless 12/26/2010 3:56pm

    This is a great article. Roz Zurko is an angel! She keeps updated information posted on the Examiner regarding the unemployment extension for the 99ers. God bless her heart!

    To All:

    Please read this and pray that this will be approved. At least, we still have someone out there talking about wanting to do something for the 99ers. It’s past due!! It is a win win situation – the money will go directly back into the economy. I can’t believe that our Congressmen and women don’t see it this way.

  • Abaratarrr 12/27/2010 6:40am

    “to 99ers, POTUS extended to 99 wks many have gone past that – we must get econ growing faster to create more jobs 4 u and help”

    “8:52 AM Dec 24th via web
    Retweeted by 13 people
    Robert Gibbs (EOP)”

    This is Obama’s press secretary, at least he seams to know we exist now.
    if anyone has twitter please retweet this, there are only 13 retweets at this momen, it needs to be in the thousands to get recognition.

  • seanurse 12/30/2010 7:37am


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