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Democrats Hunker Down to Help the Unemployed

June 17, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

With the recent jump in the jobless rate, congressional Democrats are serious about extending unemployment insurance benefits. After running into opposition from Republicans and conservative Democrats in all the various ways they’ve tried to get the extension passed, the Democratic leaders are putting it back in the place it will be safest: the war funding bill. Once Congress passes that bill it will be up to President Bush to either accept the $162 billion in war money with the unemployment extension attached, or veto the whole thing and risk further delays in getting money and resources to U.S. troops in Iraq.

The AP reports on the Democrats’ latest strategy:

>In a challenge to President Bush, House Democratic leaders have decided to retain a 13-week extension of unemployment benefits as part of long-overdue legislation to pay for the war in Iraq.
>The latest tentative agreement calls for the House to retain the unemployment benefits extension, despite a Bush veto threat, along with a major bill to beef up college benefits under the GI Bill for returning veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.
>In exchange, the Senate is expected to drop more than $10 billion in additional appropriations for programs such as heating subsidies for the poor, wildfire fighting, road and bridge repair and help for the Gulf Coast.
>Reid spokesman Jim Manley said Monday that the Senate would take up the bill after the House passes it this week and try to send it on to the president’s desk. But Republicans are expected to block the measure until a tax surcharge on the wealthy — used by the House to “pay for” the 10-year, $50 billion-plus cost of the increase in GI college benefits — is stripped out.

For more on the surtax Democrats were hoping to include in the bill, see this post on the Citizens for Tax Justice blog, which explains that “in 2007 only 0.3 percent of taxpayers were rich enough to be affected.”

We’ll be following this bill as things develop, as will, no doubt, the savvy commenters on the OpenCongress page for the unemployment bill. That bill, H.R.5749, has been the hottest bill on OpenCongress over the last few months, with more than 16,000 comments from people fighting to get it passed. The community there is definitely the best place to look for the most up to date, breaking news on this front. And If you are hoping for Congress to extend unemployment insurance, you should join in the discussion on that page and help to build political support for getting it enacted in the supplemental.

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  • Anonymous 06/17/2008 5:42pm

    Unemmployment and the war bill. Dems in the House should stop complaining about who joins the military.

  • Anonymous 06/18/2008 5:27am
    Let’s get tough this is just as important as the cost of fuel and Bush’s war. It is a stimulus to our economy to extend the unemployment even if it’s only for 2yrs to get us out of this recession and over the hump to prosperity. Please do not wait like Bush and turn your head, people are in real need NOW not weeks later. Now is really all ready to late ACT NOW get it done and do the rest after Jan 20th 2009. Show a new direction now, rewards will follow after elections for the democrats. Remember unemployment is tax revenue back to the government.

    HR5749 is now S2544??
    The unemployment extension (HR 5749) of 13 to 26 weeks is officially SR 2544. I read the comment above and called 877-3311223 and asked for Senator Baucus (not Senator Butkus) democrat who is head of the finance committee and no date has been set as to when the discussions on this will be started. They said it is not even ready to go on their calendar for discussion this week and probably will not make it next week either. With 4th of July week just around the corner, which is an off week and the month of August which is basically an off month, hopefully by Sept. the bill will see some action. Unless calls are made to your state Senators in your state that you live in, to push a rally for this bill, and get it on the books NOW, and pass it don’t push it around again. Make the CALL 877-3311223 and ask for your senator, leave a message and get their email and send them an email concerning the unemployment crisis. Everyone should call Senator Baucus to get going on this bill NOW also email him at Let him know that your house is ready for foreclosure now, its either gas or food for your family, riots in the streets on Washington are not needed this week but people are hungry and getting angry. Elections are coming up, and maybe we all should turn to the Republicans this election, because at least they can get something done in the senate unlike the Democrats that I have been voting for all my life of 52. Please pass the word to your neighbors and friends. We the people need to make a stand for ourselves not for King George’s war and loose economic way.
    Swartz Creek, Michigan

  • sexysarahdawn 06/18/2008 7:54am

    I am angry I cannot find a job.Today my children had to walk to the local store with change to buy eggs bread and milk because in this crappy economy I can’t even get hired by mickey D’s.I have sold blood,my unemployment is gone and now I can’t even afford gas to look for a job. I guess the 1ST of the month we will have to go to a shelter. What else can I do??? Never mind I have worked since I was 16 and am now 42 and this is the first time I have drawn unemployment.

  • Comm_reply
    JOBz 01/02/2010 3:25pm

    What if solving this unemployment problem was up to us … and just us. Not some third party source. What if it required all of us to band together world-wide to help one another solve this problem? What then? TRY THIS in 2010. Rather than a race to the bottom, consider watching an over the top TV experience. What if there was a reality TV series that empowered rather than trashed the contestants? Would you watch it? We think so and that’s “JOBz”, a 10 episode reality TV series in pre-production training mentally and physically 10 of the currently unemployed people in a 30 day boot camp designed to help them victoriously re-enter the workforce… and much more about overcoming negative habits and attitudes in the “job lost” to “job regained” process, WOULD YOU WATCH IT? SOUND OFF. Give us you opinion (short or long). Go to the JOBz Blog…and WEIGH IN.

  • Imbabci2 06/19/2008 8:15am

    Take the 165 Billion in war allocation OUT of this legislation and it will pass easily. Such dickering at a time when Americans are out of work, losing their homes, etc, show just how out of touch our representatives truly are.

    Take the War funding OUT. Then Congress must pass the rest of this bill without delay.

  • Imbabci2 06/19/2008 8:23am

    “the Democratic leaders are putting it back in the place it will be safest: the war funding bill. Once Congress passes that bill it will be up to President Bush to either accept the $162 billion in war money with the unemployment extension attached, or veto the whole thing and risk further delays in getting money and resources to U.S. troops in Iraq.”

    These subjects; war, GI college bennies, and unemployment are totally unrelated. The Democrats are showing yet again their desire to REMAIN in IRaq…otherwise they would separate these items.

    There is overwhelming support for Unemployment benefits extension, GI college Benefits, and help for flood victims. There is little support for the war to be continued into 2009. Yet the largest part of this bill is for the war…

  • Anonymous 06/19/2008 10:34am

    Remember we can vote these people out of office when they come up for re-election and let them see how it feels to be unemployed. Stop fighting over this and get it passed. People need the extension to live on. We are not headed for a recession we are headed for a depression. VOTE YES FOR THE UNEMPLOYMNET EXTENSION!

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