OpenCongress Blog

Blog Feed Comments Feed More RSS Feeds

GOP Blocks Vote on Unemployment Extension for 99ers

February 18, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

Job losses in the recession peaked almost exactly two years ago, and the situation has barely improved since. Current law allows unemployed workers to receive a maximum of two years of unemployment insurance benefits, so millions of people who lost their jobs in the recession are getting cut off from government support right now with little chance of finding work. These folks are often referred to as “99ers,” 99 being the maximum number of benefit weeks. Despite the situation, House Republicans yesterday used an arcane rule to block an amendment that would have provided 14 more weeks of benefits for these people.

Arthur Delaney at Huffington Post reports:

The House is currently debating a “continuing resolution” that will fund government operations through Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year, in lieu of a formal budget. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) attempted to amend the CR with her provision to provide another 14 weeks of federally-funded unemployment benefits for people who’ve been out of work for six months or longer.

In remarks on the House floor after midnight, Lee noted, as HuffPost did earlier this week, that her amendment to the CR is the only one of the hundreds proposed that addresses the jobs crisis.

“Of the nearly 600 amendments to the continuing resolution that have been proposed or considered so far, this amendment is the only one, mind you, that deals with the problem of the unemployed directly,” Lee said. “Don’t resort to parliamentary maneuvers to block help to the unemployed.”

Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) then used a parliamentary maneuver to successfully block the amendment.

“An amendment to an appropriation bill shall not be in order in changing existing law,” said Rehberg. “The amendment directly changes existing law.”

The amendment, based on a bill introduced by Lee and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), would modify the tax-cut deal that President Barack Obama struck with congressional Republicans in December. That deal reauthorized tax cuts for the rich for two years and 73 weeks of federal benefits for the long-term unemployed for one year.

The kicker is that the amendment could have easily been drafted so that it did not change existing law. The amendment, which is identical to H.R.589, would have added 14 weeks to the length of Tier I benefits. If it instead added the 14 weeks by creating a new tier it would have qualified under the rules governing amendments for the continuing resolution and been givend a vote. Sure, Scott and Lee could have been more cautious with their amendment, but the Republicans did not have to block it. Rules like the one used by Rehberg t block the vote are routinely ignored.

At this point it’s unclear when the Democrats will have another shot at holding a vote on this. The Republican leadership is not going to bring the bill to the floor under regular order, so it will have to happen in the form of an amendment to a larger bill. It may be months before the Republicans hold another open debate that allows members to offer amendments.

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


  • Abaratarrr 02/18/2011 11:13am

    I am going to give Barbra lee the benefit of the doubt on this one, It is an obscure rule that blocked her amendment and i am sure only a few people are aware of it.

    the cynic in me wants to say that they are one again playing partition games to simply make the opposing cult look bad by giving them the chance to block a vote on a bill that could have been presented in a way that it could not have been blocked (Reid has done that several time with unemployment legislation in the senate), but being that it is an obscure rule i believe that it is very possible that Lee was sincerely trying to help us and was not aware of the rule, I hope.

    I still have faith in Barbara lee and am going to try hard to not make her pay for the sins of Reid and Stabenow just because they all happen to be members of the same cult.

    ? Is the CR to be voted on today or is there time for another democrat to propose another amendment that does not break the rules?

  • fakk2 02/18/2011 3:57pm

    It is an obscure rule, but you would think as a Senator, with TONS of resources at her disposal, she would’ve done her homework to make sure it couldn’t be blocked.

    The members of the house were voted in on what their platforms were. If they lied and are not following their platforms (which remains to be seen either way, honestly), then they should not be voted in again. But, if they ARE following their platforms, whether that was no more unemployment extentions, cutting spending, more green jobs, or whatever they ran on, then they should be applauded for not lying to get a job. This is why I LOVE OC, I can track what my congresswo/man votes for and decide to vote for them again or not.

    But honestly, shouldn’t we blame both parties if they don’t know what the rules are and don’t follow the rules? It’s just like any other job, if they don’t follow the rules, they get fired. Except here, getting fired can take a while.

  • fakk2 02/18/2011 4:00pm

    The more I read these blogs, the more I realize how partisan everything sounds. Like quoting from the Huffington Post and following it up with “The kicker is” and “did not have to block it”. What’s next, quoting from Media Matters or Bill O’Reilly and following it with “They’re right”?

  • NikkiJax 02/19/2011 2:39am

    It amazes me how the GOP just refuses to help us! I WILL NEVER EVER VOTE FOR ANOTHER REPUBLICAN AGAIN AS LONG AS I LIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They are heartless and selfish and only out for their own pockets! I cannot wait until KARMA gets to them!

  • Comm_reply
    fakk2 02/19/2011 6:06am

    Everyone keeps talking about Karma like it’s an evil monster that’ll eat people alive. Instead of waiting for “karma” to “work it’s magic”, why not take a stand and ask for impeachment? I’m sure 1 or 2 senators could be impeached, like most of the democrats should for leaving Wisconsin. That was just cowardly.

  • Comm_reply
    badams82 02/19/2011 2:51pm

    Well, I hope A LOT of people don’t have suffer from short term memory and vote these idiots back in during the next election. The GOP DOES HELP… They ONLY Help Themselves and the Corporations that back them. They Help their growing bank accounts and portfolios. They get things done for the wealthy while, they continue to SUPPRESS THE MIDDLE CLASS.

    The education system continues to take such hard hits it is infuriating!! Teachers are underpaid and children lack quality of education. Then they wonder why we place so low compared to other countries?!!

  • Comm_reply
    fakk2 02/20/2011 5:25am

    Children lack quality education, not because of funding for schools, but because the teachers suck. We have the EXACT SAME SCORES that we had in international comparison from before the Dept of Educ was created. It’s not helping anyone, and if the teachers across America were excellent and as good as they thought they are, we would be #1. Yes, the parents can be blamed too, but being honest, the majority of these kids in America aren’t horrible students, it’s our average score that gives me the impression they don’t deserve higher pay.

    I’d be willing to give higher pay and full retirement if we had the best test scores in the world. But we don’t. If teachers want higher pay, they should find a job which pays better just like most of the private sector has to do. And yes, they can lose their bargaining rights because, guess what, most of the private sector doesn’t have collective bargaining. It sucks being made equal with the private sector, but I have no love lost for them.

  • Comm_reply
    Abaratarrr 02/20/2011 9:57am

    Would you be satisfied with teachers wages if they made more money on average then accountants, scientists, nurses, mechanical engines and CPAs?

    I only ask because they do make more money per hour then the people in those professions.

  • Comm_reply
    Abaratarrr 02/20/2011 10:08am

    something else I find interesting is that students who attend private schools have better test scores then those that attend public schools yet private school teachers are paid substantially less then public schools teachers, I do not think money is the issue.

    with exception to Switzerland and Sweden the US spends more money per student on primary and secondary education then any other country in the world with exception to Switzerland and Sweden, why are other students passing up US students if the issue is money?

  • Comm_reply
    Abaratarrr 02/20/2011 9:48am

    in 2010 individuals that were members of the Democratic party blocked far more unemployment extensions the republicans did.

    Also for the first time in us history unemployment benefits were not extended when the unemployment rate exceeded 7.2% and that was when all 3 legislative branches were controlled by Democrats. Looking at historic Data If republicans had been in charge unemployment benefits would have been extended.

    In the current political climate,I do not see republicans proposing to extend unemployment either, but republican leader ship have said on numerous occasions that they would agree to extend unemployment benefits if they are paid for, why will no democrat take that challenge and propose an unemployment extension that is paid for? A democratic member of the senate could still add a paid for filth tier to the CR, care to bet on weather are not a single senate democrat will bother to try to help us.

  • Comm_reply
    fakk2 02/20/2011 10:16am


    “…care to bet on weather are not a single senate democrat will bother to try to help us.”

    Really good question! If the Democratic leadership was smart, they’d propose and pass this first before anything else, especially with Obama and the DNC’s stance on the Wisconsin issue from last week. This would almost positively assure them votes during the next election.

    And I don’t think the majority of Americans would have a problem with extending UI benefits if it is paid for, but the question of, “will this turn into another type of welfare where people never get off UI?” needs to be addressed by both sides.

    The responses I’ve received from senators and representatives that represent my area all say they want to extend it, but nobody’s asking these questions which, if answered and received positively by the public, would almost guarantee votes and/or passage of benefits. It’s defintiely a lack of communication by both parties.

  • danijos 02/19/2011 6:32am

    People always saying they Will NEVER vote for repubs again but look who has house! lmao as for all the states being Broke, well why dont they cut the salaries of the Senators and House reps? that would save some money and cut some of the deficit! Dont you agree? I really think gov’t needs to look at sate and fed employee salaries and start there with the cuts and stop Bailing all the companies that ripped us off and any paying other countries Bribes and take care of the U.S. We could also do what other Countries are doing! Just Blowing off steam! My Hubby been out of work since 2008 and no more Unemployment Benefits and still has found no work still trying to find out where the jobs are they say were made, lol what a fkn joke!

  • Fdemsnrepubs 02/25/2011 1:37pm

    I was a long time republican for years….over the past year I have to say I cannot identify myself with either party or the newly formed tea party. I am not looking for hand outs which agrees with my Repub side, I am not for useless spending that benefits mainly unions (to which I don’t belong).

  • Fdemsnrepubs 02/25/2011 1:37pm

    I hold both parties in contempt and working for special interest groups…..None of the spending or slashing has helped the average Americans.

    I don’t have a union or special interest group to represent me and I am sure I speak for a majority of those unemployed. Tea Party, I agree with a lot of the principles, but you cant cut off those unemployed to no fault of their own and send them up shits creek. Your job creation policies I agree with but you need to give those unemployed time for your policies to work. Other wise its just the same old bs.

  • Fdemsnrepubs 02/25/2011 1:38pm

    Admonish one group benefit another and nobody gets ahead. Washington hasn’t represented the average Americans interest over 50 years. Its time we take back our country not divided by groups as dems, repubs, tea party, but as a nation.

  • Spam Comment

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