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Congress will let unemployment benefits expire

Updated 9:15 pm
By Ben Pershing
Unemployment benefits are set to expire for at least a week beginning April 5, as Congress plans to break for two weeks without agreeing on an extension of the program.

Last week, the House approved a $9 billion measure containing one-month extensions of unemployment insurance, COBRA health benefits and federal flood insurance. Senate Democrats hoped to have their chamber approve the same bill Thursday. But Republicans refused, complaining that the bill isn't offset with spending cuts elsewhere. They said the same thing in early March, when Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) brought the chamber to a halt for five days over another extenstion that wasn't offset.

Senate Democrats and Republicans spent hours negotiating among themselves and with each other to find a compromise. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) discussed the possibility of moving a one- or two-week extension of benefits that would be fully paid for, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was opposed to the idea, according to two Senate aides granted anonymity to discuss the negotiations.

As a result of the impasse, the House and Senate will leave town without further action. COBRA and flood insurance will expire March 30 and unemployment benefits will expire April 5. The Senate will return to session April 12.

"This will be our first item of business when we come back," said Reid spokesman Jim Manley, adding that the programs in question would be extended retroactively to make up for the period they were expired.

The Senate GOP's refusal to agree to the House's version of the bill was led by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who objected to a unanimous-consent agreement to bring up the bill. Coburn said that, by adding to the federal deficit, we are "stealing future opportunity from our children."

Democrats - emboldened by the public relations victory they believe they won during Bunning's stand -- laid blame for the impasse at the feet of Coburn and his fellow Republicans.

"Instead of grandstanding, Senator Coburn should stop obstructing Senate approval of a House bill passed unanimously by Democrats and Republicans alike," said Pelosi spokesman Nadeam Elshami.

Reid, meanwhile, said. "It is our hope Republicans will realize the damage they are causing and stop standing in the way of this much-need assistance for out-of-work Americans."

On Thursday afternoon, McConnell moved to bring up a different version of the extenders bill -- one that's fully offset. The Senate tabled McConnell's motion along party lines. Republicans argued that if Democrats were serious about spending discipline, they would have engaged with the GOP sooner about paying for the bill.

Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said earlier Thursday Democrats were being hypocrites, given that the majority enacted new "pay-as-you-go" budget rules with great fanfare.

"There are discussions going on right now, but Democrats appear not to want to pay for it, and that's the issue," Kyl said, complaining that Republicans saw the last, non-offset extensions bill -- the one that passed after Bunning gave up his fight -- as "a one-time proposition" and not something that should be repeated.

By Ben Pershing  |  March 25, 2010; 4:29 PM ET
Categories:  Capitol Briefing  
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Times are just beginning to get BAD.......The unemployed cant bare to be without benifits for even a week or two....This bill needs to be passed with additional weeks *tier 5* or at least a REAL tier 4 maybe 20 weeks instead of the mere 6. My hisbandand I are counting down the last 10 weeks of his unemployment.....then I have no idea how we will pay the bills I assume we will lose everything we worked so many years to have. IF THE JOBS ARE OUT THERE PLEASE PUT MY HUSBAND IN ONE because he applies to numerous jobs weekly and cant find one on his own he isnt even getting any interviews. Maybe when they are talking about jobs they are talking about one like i found the company works us 10 hrs a week for min wage I WANT more hours to work but the company doesnt allow that...
IF THERE IS JOBS PLEASE DO JOB PLACEMENT FOR PEOPLE RUNNING OUT OF UNEMPLOYMENT if u CANT maybe u should reconsider passing this bill quickly with additional weeks

Posted by: almostheaverWV | March 29, 2010 5:48 AM | Report abuse

For those of you who say "get a job", "less likely to look for a job while getting unemployed" as well as all the other stupid things like the above statements, read on! I have worked all my life and never got unemployment until recently. Hire me, I'm willing and ready! Until there are jobs, some can NOT find work. Unless you've been there (or here with today's job market), I suggest you zipper it. I'm tired of people thinking it's a handout! I don't want any handouts! I want a job that pays decent wage and has benefits. Hell, I'll even give up the benefits!

America needs and wants jobs! Until this issue is resolved, speaking for myself, I will do all I can to get unemployment.

Posted by: gmurph4 | March 26, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Why should the employed care about the unemployed? Because each month thousands of the employed INVOLUNTARILY become unemployed.

(INVOLUNTARILY means they don't want it to happen, for those rightwing nuts who don't understand big words).

As to raymeo... hey, it's an Orly Taitz troll! Now go listen to Rush and Beck like a good little mindless sheep.

Posted by: lmb02 | March 26, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Note to olderperson...Unemployment benefits are fuly paid by the employer unless you consider that if the employer didn't have to pay it and gave the employees the money. Social Security is paid 50/50 by employer and employee as is Medicare.

Posted by: alantich2000 | March 26, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Bozobama is a socialist son of a communist, illegitimate son I should say.

He is not an American. He is either Kenyan or Indonesian.

He is a tyrant, a dictator, the Biblical "BEAST."

To un-elect him we need to elect Congressman and U.S. Senators in November who oppose him and his politics and his initiatives.

Posted by: raymeo | March 26, 2010 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Bozobama is not an American. He is Kenyan or Indonesian. He is a tyrant. He is a dictator. He is the Biblical "BEAST"

We must unelect him. In November we must send to Washington ONLY Congressmen and U.S. Senators who oppose him in order to dave this country. If we fail, it is all all all on us !

Posted by: raymeo | March 26, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Why do the Republicans hate poor people?
why do Republicans Hate our president ( is it because he is black)? Why do Republicans hate the unemployed?

Posted by: vmsdrs | March 26, 2010 9:08 AM | Report abuse

when has the employed worried about the unemployed?

i think in nov we should clean house and start all over again with people that cares about the "american people" not their own greed!!

Posted by: butterrowe | March 26, 2010 6:15 AM | Report abuse

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Posted by: helensara26 | March 26, 2010 1:48 AM | Report abuse

Amazing. People think unemployment insurance is a handout. The worker pays into the fund. Social Security is not a hand out, workers pay into the fund. Medicare is not a handout. Workers pay into the fund.

Big bankers, under Bush, get a big tax cut and they think it is not a handout. They gamble on risky, weird securities, nearly ruining world-wide economies and get bailed out by the government [taxpayers] and they do not think it is a handout because some have repaid the 'loans.' Of course, those nasty, weird securities were bought by the U.S. Government -the New York Federal Reserve Bank under Tim Geithner to be exact - so these big guys could clear their books of those liabilities and show a profit. Not a handout?

Now my question: where in the devil are the Republicans who scream about health care reform and extended unemployment benefits? They, with the rest of Congress are off on a two-week vacation!! That's where. But where were they when Bush rammed through unfunded tax cuts? When Bush started the unfunded war in Iraq? How about the unfunded "No Child Left Behind"? Where were they when Cheney said debt doesn't matter?

I would like to see them do their duty to the American people, not the American corporations. Fat chance!

Posted by: oldperson | March 26, 2010 1:36 AM | Report abuse


"First order of business when we get back."

Nice display of inside-the-Beltway compassion.

Why not just say, "Let them eat cake."

Enough money to bail out Wall Street, not enough to help the innocent victims of greed and a government lack of superintendence.

Talk about undoing that warm health care victory feeling.

If the Dems could ram through health care reform, why couldn't they ram through help for the truly deserving?

Maybe Reid should sign up for "Undercover Boss" and find out what it's like to be jobless. His constituents may help him if he keeps this up.

And where's the White House on this? Someone got an early boarding pass?




See articles, latest comments -- including more convincing evidence of government censorship of political speech on the internet.

== When will Team Obama get a grip on a rogue bureaucracy? == RE: "GESTAPO USA" (see "stories")

Posted by: scrivener50 | March 25, 2010 11:09 PM | Report abuse

since when did unemployment benefits become a handout? I have paid into unemployment for 50 years. Never collecting for the last 30 because I own my own business. How many more people pay into this also. The joke is until the hero of the Right , Ronald Regan came along unemployment was never taxed.There's a typical Republican move. Take the common working guy, down on his luck and squeeze him even more.

Posted by: jerseydevil | March 25, 2010 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Unemployment benefits were intended to be a leg up not a hand out. At some time they have to stop and people have to find a job or make a job.

The more often the benefits are extended, the less likely people will make the effort to find work. Why should they when the government will take care of them indefinitely?

Obama is creating a plantation mind set in our country. Each time he and the Democrats issue another handout, the more dependent on the government people become. After a while the ones who are carrying most of the financial burden throw up their hands and ask WHY?

We're in a recession - people lose jobs and homes .... that's what happens when the economy goes bust. Leading people to the plantation is not the way to resolve the problem - it will take us into a depression.

Posted by: asmith1 | March 25, 2010 9:09 PM | Report abuse

There are people out of work. Their families are suffering and at risk. The Republicans do not seem to care, since they are too involved in sending their little Brown Shirts out into the streets to intimidate everyone and anyone they can in order to defeat health care reform. Through propaganda and just simple lying they are trying to turn a few changes in the law to protect the common man from the current practices of the health care insurance industry into a socialist plot. These people have lost their grip, entirely. This is not about a simple difference of opinion. This is about a country with a distinct population that is so paranoid that it wants to protect itself by harming and controlling other people, and in the process, projecting all their excrement on to everyone else. What a country. Leader of the "Free World?" These people are an embarrassment and are dangerous. We can not excuse their behavior, as the Republicans are now advocating in defense of their own irresponsibility and as they borrow the hostility of these people to advance their cause. We must stand up and not be intimidated. When the Republican leadership refuses to come out and face the public, we should know there is a big problem.

Posted by: rryder1 | March 25, 2010 8:15 PM | Report abuse

What this article doesn't mention is that this special legislation is because Congress has failed to pass a budget, or even come close. The Democrats can blame the Republicans all they want, but eventually it comes down to an ability to govern that so far neither the President nor the Democrat Congress has shown.

Posted by: washburns | March 25, 2010 8:09 PM | Report abuse

Another Republican who did nothing while the GOP borrowed and spent several trillion on their war of choice. Deficit spending is ok if it's for their donors and friends.

Posted by: hairguy01 | March 25, 2010 8:02 PM | Report abuse

Everyone wants to address the deficit. The question is what taxes will be increased and what spending will be cut.

The Republicans have decided to insist on cutting unemployment benefits because... well they really haven't stated why the unemployed should be the sole victims of the budget chopping block have they?

In contrast the Democrats have proposed a bipartisan debt panel empowered to look at all revenues and all spending and negotiate a comprehensive budget reform package. Their agreement would be binding. This was originally a Republican proposal until the Democrats agreed to it. Then the Republicans didn't like it.

Bipartisanship only works if there are two working parties in government. I see only one.

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Posted by: 1014499063 | March 25, 2010 7:48 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: 1014499063 | March 25, 2010 7:47 PM | Report abuse

I believe that those benefits should pass. But my question to those armies of bloggers who say that healthcare bill is socialism: isn't unemployment benefits socialism? How many of those tea party members will refuse to take those benefits because it is against their beliefs?

Posted by: tarang_72 | March 25, 2010 7:44 PM | Report abuse

If the Democrats really did enact pay as you go, then they really need to find a way to pay for it. I'm with the Republicans on this one.

Posted by: zackool | March 25, 2010 7:29 PM | Report abuse

"All right this is just getting ridiculous. -There's stuff that NEEDS to be done. -Republicans refuse to do anything because they believe that if nothing gets done the President will get blamed.
-So if Republicans refuse to help, then Democrats are just going to have to do it by themselves.
All this crap about "principled stances" and caring about the debt (for the first time in their lives, apparently) is nothing but political grandstanding that ultimately hurts Americans.
Posted by: menaman | March 25, 2010 5:09 PM | Report abuse"

they worked togeather fine to pass the credit card bill, so whats your beef...
I guess they should just pass everything with no debate...
no matter how bad it is for the country...
don't we get a say in all of this...
I gess we will come november...
in the meantime bad bills will be fought...
obama will never be king...

Posted by: DwightCollins | March 25, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

This is really very simple. The Republicans want this to come out of the stimulus money and Obama says there is plenty left and the Democrats want to add it to the deficit. I feel the deficit is large enough

Posted by: farmsnorton | March 25, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

All right this is just getting ridiculous. -There's stuff that NEEDS to be done. -Republicans refuse to do anything because they believe that if nothing gets done the President will get blamed.
-So if Republicans refuse to help, then Democrats are just going to have to do it by themselves.

All this crap about "principled stances" and caring about the debt (for the first time in their lives, apparently) is nothing but political grandstanding that ultimately hurts Americans.

Posted by: menaman | March 25, 2010 5:09 PM | Report abuse

I love and honor my country by respecting and utilizing the processes in place when I do not agree with legislation and that is by voting at the polls during election time.

It would behoove all willing to sacrafice honor and integrity with violence, to reconsider how seriously dangerous their radical and foolish behavior appears not only the the citizens of our great nation, but to the global community at large. Have you no shame?

Posted by: MyTwoCents4 | March 25, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Can't we all just get aloooong?

Posted by: MyTwoCents4 | March 25, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Maybe the Dems should raise taxes on politicians' to pay for the legislation???

Posted by: soapm | March 25, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Republicans are in panic mode. When they are not shrieking about Democrats who have the nerve to call the cops when the ignorant, hateful, fearful idiots at the base of their party threaten them with physical harm, they are actually blaming the recipients of the threats for the threats themselves.

You go GOP. Keep it up. Just wear your spit guards.

Posted by: Casey1 | March 25, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

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