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September

August 13, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Chuck Schumer [D, NY] took time out of his day back in D.C. yesterday to talk with reporters at The Hill about the Senate's legislative agenda for when they come back into session on September 13:

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Organizing Around Unemployment Online

July 21, 2010 - by Hilary Worden

Yesterday, friend-of-OpenCongress Micah Sifry penned an interesting & thoughtful piece on his blog on TechPresident: "How the Internet Organizes the Unemployed".

We're grateful the article prominently mentions OpenCongress -- more importantly, the organic community of concerned & engaged people that has emerged around the unemployment extensions bill (and our Benefit Wiki project). Click through for summaries and a handy list of links to all the free resources OpenCongress offers about the bill.

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Congress Links + Unemployment Benefits

July 21, 2010 - by David Moore

Elena Kagan gets approved by The Senate Judiciary Committee. Sen. Schumer (D-NY) is rated the most active member of Congress. House and Senate Dems go back-and-forth over the delay of the food safety bill.  And President Obama urges Congress for legislation on equal pay for women. Not to mention the major unemployment bill (H.R. 4213), which is of course our most-commented-on and most-tracked bill by users over the past month.

For all the best info: peruse the bill's latest news and blog coverage from around the Web, see the highest-rated user comments, visit our community-generated Benefit Wiki project to better understand how it affects your state, read our helpful past coverage of the bill's long journey, and send us your questions: writeus at opencongress dot org.  All this and more in today's roundup of links on Congress.

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Conyers' Deficit-Neutral Jobs Bill

July 14, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

If I had to pick the top three factors in U.S. politics right now I would say the unemployment situation, concern about the deficit, and distrust of the financial industry. Remarkably, Rep. John Conyers [D, MI-14] (pictured) has introduced a bill this session that seems to fall on the popular side of all three of these issues. It would be deficit neutral, dramatically reduce unemployment, and levy a new tax on the riskiest Wall Street transactions. The bill is called the 21st Century Full Employment and Training Act. Here's how it would work.

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As many of you out there are painfully aware, congressional Democrats have been been struggling for weeks to pass an extension of unemployment insurance payments for the millions of people who have lost their jobs in the economic crisis. Republicans have blocked the UI bills repeatedly in the Senate over the past month and did so again today in the House. But between their failing votes on extending the UI lifeline, the Democrats have been having more success with a bill that is designed to actually stimulate the jobs market. The "State Small Business and Credit Initiative Act of 2010" (H.R. 5297) passed the House on June 17 by a vote of 413-0. Today, the Senate voted to break a Republican filibuster of the bill by a vote of 66-33. The House Majority Whip provides this summary of the bill:

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As unemployed Americans drown in bills, Senate Democrats are trying to pass yet another temporary extension for unemployment insurance benefits. But millions of Americans who can't get flood insurance, even if their homes could quite literally be underwater, are also tuning in to this seemingly perpetual battle.

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The Senate today came one step closer to extending unemployment benefits after failing to do before the Easter recess and causing 200,000 unemployed people per week to have their benefits expire. Today's vote was on a motion to overcome a Republican filibuster of debating H.R.4851, the Continuing Extension Act of 2010. The bill would extend the filing deadline for people who are eligible for the next tier of unemployment insurance until May 5, 2010. It would not create a fifth tier of benefits.

Today's vote was approved 60-34 with Sen. Scott Brown [R, MA], Sen. Susan Collins [R, ME], Sen. Olympia Snowe [R, ME] and Sen. George Voinovich [R, OH] voting with the Democrats to defate the filibuster

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Included in the various unemployment benefits that expired this week thanks to Congressional inaction is a 65 percent subsidy for COBRA health insurance. But even with this subsidy in place, there are still millions of Americans, both unmarried opposite-sex couples and unable-to-be-married same sex couples, that can't purchase COBRA insurance in the first place. A bill introduced last month by Sen. Barbara Boxer [D, CA] aims to change this.

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The Senate has just passed a $140 billion bill includes an extension for unemployment benefits through the end of the year, tax credits and billions in emergency aid to states.

One week after approving a 30-day extension of unemployment benefits (H.R.4691), the Senate today passed the American Workers, State, and Business Relief Act (H.R.4321), which provides a longer-term extension of those benefits. Specifically, the bill extends federal unemployment assistance through Dec. 31 and provides a 65 percent subsidy for COBRA health insurance premiums. The coverage is retroactive to Feb. 28.

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Dems Push Longer-Term Unemployment Benefits

March 3, 2010 - by Eric Naing

A bill extending unemployment insurance and COBRA health insurance benefits for 30 days was signed into law last night and congressional Democrats are now hoping to extend those benefits through the end of this year. Amidst the chaos surrounding Sen. Jim Bunning's [R, KY] filibuster, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid [D, NV] and Sen. Max Baucus [D. MT] on Monday unveiled their bill to provide longer-term relief to the unemployed. Included as an amendment to an existing House bill (H.R.4213)...

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Sen. Jim Bunning's [R, KY] one-man filibuster came to an end last night allowing the Senate to pass an emergency extension for unemployment benefits (H.R.4691).

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Bunning's Blockade Affects More People

March 2, 2010 - by Eric Naing

We've discussed how Sen. Jim Bunning's [R, KY] filibuster of unemployment benefits has affected millions of dollars in construction projects and thousands of workers, but there's another consequence of his obstruction: a 21 percent cut in Medicare dollars for doctors. I've discussed the “doc fix” before but to recap, a budget formula has repeatedly and automatically cut Medicaid payments to doctors since 2003. Congress routinely votes to delay those cuts, but by not paying to permanently fix t...

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Bunning's Blockade Affects People

March 2, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

McClaychy outlines some of the real-world impact of Sen. Jim Bunning [R, KY] continuing objections to a temporary extension of unemployment benefits and other expiring programs (H.R. 4691): Federal projects shut down include more than $38 million in project funding for Idaho's Nez Perce National Forest and Fernan Lakes Idaho Panhandle National Forest and $86 million for bridge replacements in the Washington, D.C., area. Bunning's home state of Kentucky has no projects affected by his action. ...

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After The Jobs Bill, Reid Moves To Tourism

February 24, 2010 - by Eric Naing

With today's passage of a $15 billion jobs bill, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid [D, NV] is now eyeing a bill designed to encourage foreign tourism to the United States.

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Has a new day dawned in the Senate? On Monday night, five Republicans helped to hand Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid [D, NV] a big and much-needed victory by joining with Democrats on defeating a Republican filibuster of his $15 billion jobs bill. The bipartisan 62-30 vote came even after Reid scaled the bill back last week by removing some unrelated tax cuts, which were popular with Republicans, and an unemployment insurance extension, which is popular with everyone in Congress.

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