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Lame-Duck Senate to Vote on Unemployment Benefits Extension

November 19, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

UPDATE: If you’re looking for information regarding the unemployment insurance extension pending in October 2009, see this post, this portal on the OC Wiki and this bill page.

Congressional Democrats originally had a much grander vision of helping Main Street America during this lame-duck session. They hoped to help the U.S. auto industry avoid bankruptcy by giving them $25 billion in new government loans and enacting a far reaching economic stimulus package for the broader economy. But after reaching a stalemate on both those items, they’ve settled on working for the lowest common denominator, extending unemployment insurance benefits for those who have exhausted their benefits and still haven’t found work.

The unemployment bill the Senate will vote on Thursday morning, H.R. 6867, is the bill that the House approved in October, right after they signed off on the $700 billion bailout for Wall Street.

At a total cost of $6 billion, the unemployment benefits extension is a relatively small concession from Congress to Main Street America. But other than giving in to the Bush administration and changing the conditions they put on the $25 billion in loans they have already approved for the big-three automakers, it’s the only thing Congress can accomplish in the current political climate. Increased financial support for the American auto companies, as well as a major economic stimulus package with money for infrastructure projects and budget assistance for individual states has been put off until January, when Obama is in the White House and the Democrats’ majority in Congress is larger.

The unemployment bill to be voted on would provide for seven more weeks of unemployment insurance benefits for those whose benefits have run out. In states with an unemployment rate above six percent – like Rhode Island, Michigan and California – the bill would provide for 13 weeks extended of benefits. It is estimated that, without the bill, 1.1 million unemployed Americans will exhaust their benefits by the end of 2008.

In October it passed the House by an overwhelming vote of 367-28. The vote, which happened minutes after they approved the $700 billion bailout for Wall Street, represented their attempt at bailout of Main Street. Only five Representatives – all Republicans – voted for the Wall Street bailout, but against the unemployment bill.

Every Democrat in the Senate, besides Barack Obama and Joe Biden, who won’t be there, is expected to vote in favor of the unemployment bill tomorrow, so it’s passage depends on at least 11 Republicans crossing the aisle to vote for the bill. Thirty-four Republican Senators voted in favor of the Wall Street bailout. We’ll be watching to see how many of them vote against this relatively miniscule Main Street bailout.

If the bill does pass the Senate, it is still unclear whether President Bush will sign it into law. In the not-too-distant past the Bush administration argued that the 6.3 percent national unemployment rate is below the level historically relied on to justify an unemployment insurance extension. But more recently the Administration has seemed open to the extension. At a recent press briefing, White House spokesperson Dana Perino said that President Bush was “very concerned” about the high unemployment rates in some states. “It’s one of the reasons that he agreed to the UI extension from – unemployment insurance extension that we provided in August,” she said. “And we’ll see what the Congress puts forward on that if they come back for a lame duck.”

UPDATE: The Bush administration today came out firmly in favor of the bill:

>The White House said on Thursday that President George W. Bush supported legislation that would extend unemployment benefits to ease the impact of the current economic crisis.
>"The financial and credit crisis has slowed our economy dramatically. It is having an impact on job creation," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.
>"Because of the tight job market the president believes it would be appropriate to further extend unemployment benefits, and he would sign legislation that is now in front of Congress," she said. “We hope that they will be able to pass that before they leave for their recess.”

UPDATE 2: A little late with this update here, but I though I should mention that this bill has passed the Senate and officially been signed into law.

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Anonymous 04/08/2009 2:41pm
in reply to threejacks Nov 20, 2008 3:14am

Thank you to our great former President George W. Bush for giving us two extensions to our unemployment and for keeping us safe since 9/11.

“Good grief” is what we should feel with what we have in place now. There has been no extension passed since President BO took over. The Democrats seem only interested in paying off their already high-payed liberal buddies. President BO and his fellow Dems have gone on a real spending spree and not for those people, like us, who have been working for a living, paying our taxes, and not taking on mortgages we couldn’t afford! Oh no, he and his pals: Barney, Harry, and Nancy have not given us responsible leadership, but have spent us into outer space! The U.S. Govt. will have to file bankruptcy when the Chinese and Japanese call in our loans – that the U.S. Govt. cannot pay. Oh, but then we can have a society where everyone is equal and no one can excel. Yes, that’s just what they have in mind.

Spam Comment

Anonymous 11/22/2008 7:55am
in reply to Anonymous Nov 21, 2008 7:39am

December 7th, 1942 “Jap Tricked”. September 11th, 2001 “Towelhead Tricked”. October 23rd, 2008 “Bush Tricked”.

Anonymous 11/21/2008 2:04pm

I’m in CA too and the EDD site says nothing about it.
Very happy that we get an additional 20 weeks for the second one.
The new law takes effect Nov 23 but it could be a 2-3 weeks before any checks are cut. EDD is probably overwhelmed.

Anonymous 11/21/2008 7:39am

Do you think brain dead Bush and his yes-sir puppet cabinet have ever tried rammen noodles and spam? Have you noticed its made a strong comeback and hard to find these days. Bushenomics, well all be camping soon. Like Bush thinks “don’t worry about it, it’s only money and most of it is not yours”. It’s like what does that cover? “Don’t worry about it, all your questions will be answered during your first claim”. He sure did a good job putting me together. I count my pennies, and he needs help carrying around his checkbook and wallet. Instead of saying ouch when we get hurt, we should start saying bushed!

Anonymous 11/20/2008 3:52pm

It’s about time this extension has finally passed!! Now that the 2nd extension has passed, when can we apply for benefits? Do we have to wait for Bush to acutally sign the bill? I live in Ca and I haven’t seen any posting on the EDD site yet.

Anonymous 11/20/2008 12:46pm
in reply to Anonymous Nov 20, 2008 4:06am

Yes! Once your current extension is done you have to file a new claim for it! Its about time! I’ve been laid off here in NYC for over 13 months and I have applied for all kinds of jobs and have attended many jobs fairs.. my extension ended in October so I’m very happy!

Anonymous 11/20/2008 10:08am
in reply to Anonymous Nov 20, 2008 8:47am

The die was cast beginning with Reaganomics trickle down theory. Deregulation, unfettered greed all played a hand in this. That being said, I am over fifty and have never seen a recession like this one.

In my lifetime, I have not seen the banking and mortgage industry crash. It crashed because of deregulation and unfettered greed. And I have not seen a recession like this one. I have been through quite a few recessions myself.

Anonymous 11/20/2008 10:04am
in reply to Anonymous Nov 20, 2008 4:06am


Anonymous 11/20/2008 9:35am

No, If Al Gore had had been President which he should have been, we wouldn’t be in Iraq, green technologies would be thriving, a barrel of oil would be worth as much as a jar of mayonnaise, Wall Street and the investment markets wouldn’t be down 45% year to date, and the state of our economy would not be at 16 year lows to name a few! Oh, at last poll Bush had a 27% approval rating on how he is managing the country. I wonder how high it would be today? 0.000000009 maybe!

Anonymous 11/20/2008 8:47am

The die was cast on this mess long before Bush came into office. Why you people insist on giving him that much power is amazing. This whole thing is a product of greed, complacency and the general mind set that there will always be “more”, so lets give-away-the-farm, in ALL of us born and raised here.

Anonymous 11/20/2008 8:41am

Bush and his cabinet will leave this country in shambles. The history books will need a gymnasium for the chapter covering his Presidency. “Bush Phucqed”!

Anonymous 11/20/2008 8:33am

no george w bush will be in court rooms tryin to keep his butt out of jail for all the crap hes done,,dick chenney has already been called in in texas i hope he goes to jail myself,,its rough out there lookin for jobs, i spent my last round of unemployment on gas lookin for jobs spent many hours filling out applications and sending resumes out online its just crazy,, and im a hard worker always have done good work i have great referrals i dont know what to do

Anonymous 11/20/2008 5:35am

Bush and his executive branch all use special interest lobbyist to help each other carry their checkbooks and wallets around Washington. Meanwhile, his cabinet stood by while his government agencies have frivolously robbed my 401K, and vindictively managed this country, economy and American standard of living into relegated poverty and economic disaster! Bush bailed out the still employed crooks responsible for my status as a displaced worker. I have been laid off for 9 months now and continue to struggle with many other Americans hurt buy your greed, deceit and complete ignorance. The American taxpayers are worth about ½ of what they were under your Commander and Chief administration. You and your cabinet should have all your Federal benefits withheld and used to fund an extension of unemployment benefits for all the people you have hurt under your management and accountability fiasco. I am so tired of listening to your rational and then having all my questions answered during my 1st claim. Listening to you talk makes me weak. I can’t wait until you are jettisoned and hit the bricks in January. See you in the massive unemployment lines.

Anonymous 11/20/2008 4:06am

does this bill mean that you will be eligible for a second extension if your first extension is about to run out?

threejacks 11/20/2008 3:14am

After reading this article, I find it some what disturbing as to what is implied in the last paragraph.The Bush administration tends to ignore several factors in the unemployment rate.There are hundreds of thousands of people who have simply quit looking for work because there is nothing out there and a lot of these people have had to take part time jobs being all they could find.These people are no longer counted in the unemployment figures,if u were to do this u would find that unemployment is higher than 6.3 per cent.In my state of Kentucky there are very few if any places doing any hiring.If u do manage to find a job it is ether part time or a job that only pays basic wage or a little better and no benefits.I will admit that some money going in is better than no money,but u can’t pay your bills,keep a roof over your head food on the table on part time wages or at a wage of 6.50 a hour.If any Members of Congress think this is possible to live on,I ask them to give up their nice cozy job’s for a while get off their asses and get out in the real world and see what the people are going through.

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