Unemployment Insurance Clears Major Hurdle

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WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 17: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) speaks to members of the media after the weekly Senate Democratic Policy Committee luncheon December 17, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Senate Democrats held the weekly luncheon to discuss Democratic agenda.
National Journal
Elahe Izadi
Jan. 7, 2014, 6:28 a.m.

A bill to ex­tend long-term un­em­ploy­ment be­ne­fits has”“some­what sur­pris­ingly”“cleared a key hurdle in the Sen­ate.

“It was in the bal­ance un­til the very last mo­ment,” Sen. Jack Reed, the Rhode Is­land Demo­crat who sponsored the bill, said after the vote. “I was hope­ful but I guess be­ing Ir­ish, I’m al­ways ex­pect­ing the worst. Yeah, I was sur­prised, but that might be more cul­tur­al than polit­ic­al.”

A pro­ced­ur­al 60-37 vote in the up­per cham­ber Tues­day reached the 60-vote threshold needed to fa­cil­it­ate a fi­nal vote, with six Re­pub­lic­ans join­ing Demo­crats: Sens. Kelly Ayotte of New Hamp­shire; Dan Coats of In­di­ana; Susan Collins of Maine; Lisa Murkowski of Alaska; Rob Port­man of Ohio; and Dean Heller of Nevada, who co-sponsored the meas­ure Reed.

Fed­er­al emer­gency in­sur­ance for the un­em­ployed ex­pired Dec. 28, and 1.3 mil­lion were kicked off the rolls. The pro­gram of­fers be­ne­fits to the job­less who have run out of state be­ne­fits, which run 26 weeks in most parts of the coun­try.

The bill the Sen­ate will now vote on would ret­ro­act­ively provide be­ne­fits to those who lost them on Dec. 28, and will ex­tend be­ne­fits for an­oth­er three months. Re­pub­lic­ans have balked at that idea, and lead­er­ship in the House in­sists that there be an off­set to pay for the cost of ex­tend­ing be­ne­fits. The Sen­ate bill has no such pro­vi­sion.

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