This is the day that 2,600,000 unemployed have waited six weeks for, as the Senate votes to extend unemployment benefits through November 2010.
According to an aide for Senator Harry Reid:
Yes, we will have a vote today on cloture on the unemployment insurance extension today at 2:30 pm. We will reconsider the vote that we took prior to recess on HR4213. That bill contained both an extension on unemployment insurance and a homebuyer tax credit closing transaction date extension.
We ended up passing the homebuyer credit part separately, so today’s vote will just be an extension of unemployment insurance through November. Should we get cloture today, we hope to have a vote on final passage today as well. That will take an agreement by Republicans to allow us to do so. If they do not, we would have to wait 30 hours before a vote on final passage (under Senate rules).
As you can see, Republicans can still delay passage for another day or so, but with the lousy publicity they have received during this unemployment extension fiasco, it’s unlikely that they will play the 30 hour card.
Senator Reid also is quoted in the most recent Arthur Delaney, HuffPost article: Unemployment Extension: The GOP’s Unprecedented Deficit Demands
To the 2.5 million long-term unemployed who have prematurely stopped receiving checks, the dithering deficit debate in Washington might seem a tad philosophical. As Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) put it on Monday, “They’re trying to understand why at this pressing moment — when jobs are harder to come by than at any other time in recent memory — Congress can’t get its act together to extend emergency insurance, just as we’ve always done with bipartisan backing.”
“They look at a crisis for families’ budgets and see an opportunity for their political fortunes,” said Reid. “They think that when unemployment goes up, so do their poll numbers.”
Congress has never allowed extended unemployment benefits to lapse at a time when the national unemployment rate is above 7.2 percent.
And according to the Hill:
The Senate is expected to vote Tuesday afternoon on a stand-alone $34 billion bill — the stripped down tax extenders package — that will provide those extended benefits of up to 99 weeks through November.
Then the House will take up the measure on Wednesday; likely pass it, clearing it for President Obama’s desk, according to a senior Democratic aide.
The 60th vote needed for Senate passage was a result of interim Senator Goodwin being appointed to the late Senator Robert Byrd’s seat. While the Democrats have secured the necessary Senate votes, the Republicans are still beating an ‘address the deficit on the backs of the unemployed drum’:
“What the President isn’t telling the American people is that many of us in the Senate are fighting to make sure our children and grandchildren aren’t buried under a mountain of debt. If we are going to extend unemployment benefits then let’s do it without adding to our record debt that is the highest as a percentage of GDP since World War II.”
Why are the Republicans so concerned about the small deficit increase this bill will have on the overall deficit to future generations, but ignoring the real needs of children today? It’s an odd argument for a number of reasons:
A $34 billion deficit over ten years when compared to a ten year $10 trillion deficit = 0.0034; a tiny percentage of the overall deficit.
The Republicans are putting the lives of millions of children in financial jeopardy today to save them a couple deficit dollars each over the next ten years. Children need food, shelter and care now, they and their parents aren’t worried about a tiny federal budget increase in the years to come.
There are some issues with the unemployment benefits legislation that is expected to pass the Senate today (emphasis mine):
A 65 percent subsidy created last year to help the jobless buy health insurance through their former employers will be allowed to lapse. It benefited 2 million households, according to the Treasury Department.
The measure also would not renew a provision boosting unemployment checks by $25 that was part of last year’s economic stimulus package. Nor would it extend provisions exempting the first $2400 in unemployment aid from taxation. In addition, Democrats have no plan to extend aid to the growing number of Americans who already have received the maximum amount of allowable aid.
The bill comes amid a growing debate over whether the aid extensions are contributing to the jobless rate.
An April report by a pair of economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco found that extensions have had a “relatively modest effect” on the unemployment rate, estimating the figure would have been 9.6 percent at the end of last year rather than 10.0 percent without the aid. The unemployment rate in June was 9.5 percent.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said yesterday the extension probably won’t be the last. “I think it is fair and safe to assume that we are not going to wake up at the end of November and find ourselves at a rate of employment that one would consider not to be still in an emergency,” he told reporters.
Let’s hope that the next extension of benefits isn’t as difficult as this past one has been so far.
Benefit exhaustee – 99 news
Unfortunately the legislation scheduled for a vote today won’t help benefit exhaustees – the 99ers and as of this moment there is no plan to vote on a Tier 5 or unemployment benefits exhaustee package. But once H.R. 4213 is passed, the unemployment benefit exhaustee community is gearing up for a media and congressional contact blitz, which will continue to press the need for further benefits for those that have exhausted all benefits. I’ll have more on that story later today.
But in the meantime you can see that the 99ers are making some important media headway with the airing of a 99er segment on Good Morning America today.This GMA 99er piece would not have been possible without the contributions of 99er advocates LaDona King, Rob C and many others.
The financial effects of losing unemployment benefits can be devastating, especially to those that have no other means of support:
Here’s the daily list;
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How has unemployment affected you and your family? Have you applied for hundreds of jobs and received no job offers? Have you been rejected for a job because you are unemployed? Have you been rejected for a job because of your credit score? Has age discrimination played a part in your job hunt? Send your letters to [email protected]
Due to all the unemployment news that I’m trying to cover, I have fallen behind in responding to all the email I have received, but I will do my utmost to reply to each and everyone of you.
Congress.org has a great media contact list:http://www.congress.org/congressorg/dbq/media/
Another media contact list is located at:http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_oet&address=358×1903
Keeping the Tier 5 and extended unemployment issues alive is going to be up to you, so be sure to contact your congressional representatives as often as you can. You need to continue to pressure Congress to act responsibly and to extend benefits for those unable to find work. Send your representative a fax using FaxZero.com. As has been mentioned in the comments section, you can send up to two free faxes a day.
Here’s a great site where you can find both state and federal contact information: http://conservativeusa.org/mega-cong.htm
Please send your comments and questions to [email protected]
I’ll post updates as they are made available. You can also view my updates and new posts at Twitter: http://twitter.com/layofflist
You can also follow numerous unemployment issues on Facebook. My profile is located at Rochester Unemployment-Examiner (dash between Unemployment and Examiner).