The House of Representative passed the extender bill that would extend unemployment benefits until November 30,2010. The vote was not close. 270 Congressmen voted in favor of the bill. Only 153 voted against it. Eleven Democrats voted “no.”
A complete list of the roll call vote can be found here
House bill has limits
While the House bill does extend benefits, it does not create a 5th tier of benefits. The maximum time allowed for collecting benefits is still 99 weeks. The newly passed legislation also fails to include the $25 per month payment from the 2009 stimulus bill.
The measure would make payments retroactive. That may be a very small comfort for the millions who have lost benefits.
Senate still has to pass their extender bill and that’s not certain
The House vote does not guarantee that benefits will be extended. Before the bill can become law it must be reconciled with an approved Senate version. Once BOTH the House and the Senate pass the extender, it can be sent to President Obama for signature.
The Senate is still short one vote for passage of the bill. That count assumes that all the Senators who voted “yes” Wednesday evening will continue to vote “yes.” That does not include Majority Leader Harry Reid who voted “no” only to preserve the right to bring the bill again. Once that last vote is secured, Mr. Reid will change his vote to “yes.”
West Virginia Governor holds the key
West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin, a Democrat, must appoint someone to the seat vacated by the death of Sen. Robert Byrd. The interim appointment is expected to be announced after the Byrd memorial service and burial.
The interim senator appointed by the Governor would sit until November 2012.
Speculation on the Hill assumes that the Governor will appoint a “caretaker” senator. A caretaker is a person who will simply occupy the seat until the voters of West Virginia elect a new senator in a special election. This could be a difficult choice because the Governor is thought to be interested in running for that Senate seat in 2012.
Even if a caretaker senator is appointed, there is no guarantee that the person will vote with the Democrats. It is most probable but never guaranteed.
When will the special election be held?
Natalie Tennant, the Secretary of State for West Virginia, announced Monday that the state would hold the special election in 2012. The voters would choose a replacement for Sen. Byrd on the same ballot as they would vote for a new senator for a full six-year term.
A blogger’s cruel report raises false hopes
An Iowa blogger raised the hopes of many unemployed that another Senate vote would be taken last night. It was reported that Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said on a conference call that
“I hope that we can get this done — we only missed it by one vote yesterday — I hope we can pass it tonight before we go home for the 4th of July,”
Unfortunately, Harkins ”hope” was nothing more than a wish. A quick check of the Congressional Record clearly showed the Senate was adjourned until July 12, 2010.
Unless the Senate was called back into session, no vote could be taken. Congressional leaders were not about to recall the Senate only to have the vote fail again.
Will the Senate be able to pass the extender legislation? Will Senators change their votes after hearing from their electorate? Post your comments,concerns and opinions and make your voice heard. Get the latest news and this issues and other related issues. SUBSCRIBE here. There is no cost for a subscription.