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Excerpt: "In a bid to build support, Democrats included a provision to bar those earning more than $1 million a year from drawing unemployment checks."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Democrats will force a vote on extending unemployment benefits. (photo: Getty Images)
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Democrats will force a vote on extending unemployment benefits. (photo: Getty Images)


US Senate Showdown Vote Set to Extend Unemployment Benefits

By Reuters

05 February 14

 

  • Democrats seek to muster needed 60 votes

  • Measure would restore benefits for 1.7 million Americans

  • Would make millionaires ineligible for such relief

.S. Senate Democrats on Tuesday set up a showdown vote with Republicans on a new bill to extend long-term unemployment benefits for 1.7 million Americans while making millionaires ineligible for such relief.

Democrats hold the Senate, 55-45, but may have difficulty mustering the 60 votes that will be needed on Thursday to clear a Republican procedural hurdle.

In a bid to build support, Democrats included a provision to bar those earning more than $1 million a year from drawing unemployment checks. The measure was modeled after one drafted a few years ago by Republican Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.

Tax records show that in 2010 a couple of thousand unemployed millionaires managed to get federal or state jobless benefits, backers of the legislation said.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid scheduled the vote for Thursday after rejecting Republican requests that they be allowed to propose a number of amendments to the Democratic bill.

In describing the bill on the Senate floor, Reid said, "What we are going to do is offer a fully paid for three-month extension of unemployment insurance."

"That's what Republicans said they wanted, and we agreed to it," Reid said, alluding to Republican demands last month. "We will not agree to an unlimited number of amendments."

The bill was introduced by Senator Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat whose state has one of the highest jobless rates in the nation, more than 9 percent.

Senate Republicans last month blocked an earlier version of the bill, which Reed co-sponsored with Republican Senator Dean Heller of Nevada.

But, unlike the previous bill, the new one would fully cover the $6.4 billion cost of providing jobless benefits for an additional three months and would not increase the record federal debt load, Reed said.

In fact, Reed said, it would provide enough additional revenue to help reduce the debt by $1.2 billion.

Reed explained that the cost of restoring jobless benefits would be offset by "pension smoothing," which, he explained, would allow companies to use historical data in determining pension contributions.

That, in turn, would increase revenues and result in additional taxes to pay for the jobless benefits.

"It is technique that has been used before by both Republicans and Democrats in terms of paying for proposals," Reed said in a conference call with reporters. "I don't think that is going to cause any controversy."

A senior Senate Republican aide, however, said there could be resistance, noting that "pension smoothing" has been "a gimmick in the past, and it is still a gimmick."

The bill would renew benefits, retroactive to Dec. 28, when they began ending for the long-term unemployed, generally out of work for six months or more.

It would also give Congress time to explore ways to pay for restoring benefits for a full year and consider possible new job-creating proposals.

Initially, some 1.3 million unemployed people lost their benefits after Christmas, but that number grew in the past month to 1.7 million.

Although U.S. unemployment has fallen to 6.7 percent from 10 percent in October 2009, economists say some of the decline is because many have given up searching for work.

President Barack Obama, top fellow Democrats and their supporters say restoring the benefits are key to ensuring that those unemployed workers have a basic safety net in place while continuing to look for jobs.

They say such relief would also help the overall economy by pumping money into it. Recipients of jobless benefits receive on average about $300 a week.

 

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+14 # tswhiskers 2014-02-05 10:09
This upcoming vote to increase unemployment benefits is heartening to say the least. But it would be even more heartening if Harry would schedule a vote to remove the supermajority on ALL Senate votes. The Reps. have proved themselves to be consistently faithless and dishonest; why in H*** does anyone care if they throw another tantrum should they lose it? After all, it's no news that the Reps. and their wealthy supporters are only babies in 3-piece suits.
 
 
+10 # reiverpacific 2014-02-05 11:22
Sadly there are plenty "Blue-dog" fink-Democrats who are just as out of touch as the feudalist Reprobrats.
I hate to be cynical and pessimistic -but take the recent "Farm Bill" which had a back-room deal built in to cut SNAP benefits for millions of the most needy Americans and their families (and by extension, their animal friends and dependents, a great source of comfort in hard times).
89 blasted, traitorous, turncoat Democrats INCLUDING Nancy Pelosi, voted "Yea" for this rat fink bill. 63 Repub's voted "nay".
Such a parcel o' rogues in a nation (old Scots song)!
 
 
+1 # Rain17 2014-02-06 04:29
Well I guess what I would ask you and others upset over the Farm Bill is: where were you going to find the votes to pass a bill with no SNAP cuts, especially when the Republicans control the House? Where do you get those Republicans, who wanted to cut $40 billion from SNAP, to magically change their minds?

I agree that the Farm Bill is bad, but it is not the $40 billion in cuts that it could have been. Again I would also prefer no cuts, but I just don't see how such a bill would get past the GOP-controlled House. That even Sanders of VT voted for it says that this was probably the best they could do.

But I will say that, more so than anything else, the Farm Bill is proof that elections have consequences. The left chose to stay home in 2010 and the result is the GOP-controlled House that we have now. And the left chose to stay at home in the election cycle right before reappointment and redistricting, which meant that the GOP seized control of crucial state legislatures and locked their gains in via redistricting for the next ten years.

So this is the consequence for staying home in 2010 or not voting. If anything this story should again be proof that elections do matter and they definitely have consequences.
 
 
+18 # Vardoz 2014-02-05 11:40
To cut unemployment when there are 3 people to every job, 116 million Americans living in poverty and no interest in job creation or good paying jobs as the top are enjoying a financial orgy and the biggest nanny state in our history is a crime and is tatamount to murder by cuts. We all need to call our reps and express our strong outrage to this severe threat to people's heath safety and welfare. IT IS NOT OK TO PROMOTE POLICIES THAT KILL PEOPLE.
 
 
+2 # Rain17 2014-02-06 04:31
Again I'll repeat what I said above: elections have consequences. Some elements of the left, disheartened that Obama didn't pass everything they wanted, chose to stay home in 2010. The result is the GOP-controlled House that we have now. This is proof that elections do have consequences.
 
 
+2 # llang1956 2014-02-06 16:40
Hello Vardoz
I have called/emailed my reps! They don't care. They say they do but in reality they don't care. They say unemployment is at 6.4% but that is a lie also. Its way over that if you consider all the people who have exhausted their unemployment benefits and now they don't count. Sadly they don't count.
 
 
+2 # Walter J Smith 2014-02-05 18:33
RE: "Democrats hold the Senate, 55-45, but may have difficulty mustering the 60 votes that will be needed on Thursday to clear a Republican procedural hurdle."

This is blatant electoral posturing.

The Democrats hold a majority, and make the rules governing how many and which "procedural" obstacles the GOP can put up to block votes on anything.

This is staged to force the GOP to provide the D party with cover for having agreed earlier to vote against extending these very same unemployment benefits.

Voting D or R is treason.
 
 
+1 # AUCHMANNOCH 2014-02-06 02:02
"Tax records show that in 2010 a couple of thousand unemployed millionaires managed to get federal or state jobless benefits, backers of the legislation said." Can you believe that?
 
 
-3 # Rain17 2014-02-06 04:35
Well, if those millionaires were working and lost their jobs through no fault of their own, they are entitled to unemployment just like anyone else. Employees who earn wages pay unemployment taxes via their payroll deductions. So too do employers.

So, if a millionaire works at a job and gets laid off, he or she is entitled to unemployment benefits based on the payroll taxes that he/she paid. He/she would still have to actively be looking for a job and provide that information to the unemployment office.

So millionaires getting unemployment is possible if they worked for wages and lost their jobs. There is no income or asset test to receive unemployment benefits.
 
 
0 # llang1956 2014-02-06 16:38
Quoting AUCHMANNOCH:
"Tax records show that in 2010 a couple of thousand unemployed millionaires managed to get federal or state jobless benefits, backers of the legislation said." Can you believe that?

Quoting AUCHMANNOCH:
"Tax records show that in 2010 a couple of thousand unemployed millionaires managed to get federal or state jobless benefits, backers of the legislation said." Can you believe that?

Its ridiculous!
 
 
+1 # llang1956 2014-02-06 16:43
Yes I believe it and as I stated it is ridiculous.
 
 
+2 # llang1956 2014-02-06 16:37
Why are we talking about the farm bill who cares! This page is about the congress approving or not the unemployment extension. Well all I want to say as I am not working THROUGH NOT FAULT OF MY OWN. The businesses that agreed to hire long term unemployed which is also me as I am now 5 months unemployed are not in the financial arena. So how does this help me? The fact that they are worried about our children's future being able to pay for this? Really well if I lose my home my daughter has no future does she? ALL I CAN SAY IS HOLD ON TO YOUR HAT IT WILL BE AN UPTURN IN WHO WE VOTE FOR IN THIS NEXT ELECTION. Those congress people need to lose their jobs and see how it feels. Yes millionaires should not collect unemployment. THEY ARE MILLIONAIRES, Hello?
 
 
+3 # Jingze 2014-02-06 17:02
Voted down again. Republicans hate Americans - unless they're filthy rich and lining their pockets.
 

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