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Senate approves extension of unemployment benefits

By Shailagh Murray
The Senate voted to restore jobless benefits through early June on Thursday, ending a partisan showdown that had temporarily stopped the flow of unemployment checks to more than 200,000 Americans.

The standoff ended when three Republicans joined Democrats to pass the bill on a 59-38 vote. The House was expected to quickly approve the package, possibly as soon as Thursday night.

The $18 billion package also would resume Medicare payments to doctors and extend health coverage for unemployed individuals through the COBRA program. Unemployment checks will now flow through June 2, giving lawmakers time to negotiate a broader bill that could provide support to the unemployed for up to 99 weeks.

Republicans had unanimously opposed the latest extension because it lacks budget cuts to offset the cost. But Democrats countered that jobless benefits count as emergency economic assistance and should be treated as an exception.

"We should not balance the budget on the backs of unemployed Americans," said Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.).

The three Republicans who broke ranks were Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine and George Voinovich of Ohio. All cited dire economic straits back home to explain their reversal. The most recent reports pegged the nation's unemployment rate at 9.7 percent.

Republicans failed to pass measures that would have paid for the bill, including through spending cuts and tax increases, and remained resolute in their conviction that voters are fed up with profligate federal spending habits.

"The American people are disgusted with Congress because we refuse to make the hard choices struggling families make every day," said Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who led the Republican opposition. "Our debt and deficits are as much of an emergency as unemployment, yet Congress continues to pretend it can spend and borrow without restraint."

By Post Editor  |  April 15, 2010; 7:10 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency , Capitol Briefing  
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Posted by: itkonlyyou12 | April 17, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

I dont understand what the goverment wants me to do? I worked for 34 yrs,payed taxs? I cant find a job..live in michigan unemployment over 14%..Im at the end of unemployment and now I have nothing..I have 3 kids and no were to go.We will have no power soon.I wish the goverment would tell my kids what they should do? I dont know what to tell them. only thing left soon will be the old car,thats not going to be a good way to live.Im now going to look to shelters.I hope they help the people soon..to late for me and my family..take care and god bless

Posted by: dave-on-the-road | April 16, 2010 6:24 PM | Report abuse

What madness. When the working class needs help - it is called socialism and deficit spending! When Wall Street, deregulators and white-collar theft are called economic adjustments and capitalism?

Capitalism is not to be confused with democracy. Free markets work only when there is a moral compass. Even Congress no longer runs our "capital markets," corporations, wall street, lobbyists and insiders run Congress. So who is left to speak for the American People? This President does! And I am sure "they" will unravel his good deeds when he no longer holds his Office. When our own DoD demands that suppliers utilize 80% offshore labor in their contracts - we may save on the costs but in the long-term we are permanetly losing jobs that will not return. Unemployment checks are miniscule in the scheme of such actions!

Posted by: brb723 | April 16, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

to the commit of bubbette1 I would just like to say i live in ohio where the rate hit 11 percent Iam on my 2 tier you know I dont understand the republicans when mr bush was in office they used our s.s to fund the wars and insurance companies .you didnt hear the dems sceaming and blocking bills but the reps a like the baby of our nations they scream and cry till they get what they want just remenber may4 and november is coming so tell them to get thier unemplotment books ready because we have had it....thanks for your ear for a while.

Posted by: bobo98 | April 16, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if Coborn and the rest of the Republicans have answers back home for all who are unemployed.There insistent oppisition on this issue will lost them votes at home. If we can handout the monies we do aka Haiti at 2 billion which will disappear in the black hole that is that country we can take care of our own.

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Posted by: itkonlyyou9 | April 16, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

How can anyone in the Senate or House be against unemployment benefits? It is through their actions which put us all in jeopardy! Think of the 900 billion spent in a war in Iraq and the 4000 plus young men and women who lost their lives and the thousands more wounded who will carry their stigma for life. Lest we forget the lessons of Vietnam and the people’s suffering.
Don’t forget TARP and the bailout of banks that now turn their back on the public who need mortgage help and give billions to a few individuals who are so called “needed talent”!
My father use to say “people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw bricks” and the actions of our governing body speak volumes in self absorbing interest. Remember unemployed have families and they need our help!

Posted by: 1electrontech | April 16, 2010 10:25 AM | Report abuse

The Republicans asked that funds be taken from the worthless pork laden stimulus bill to cover this cost. Rather than remove pork and use funds for this the Democrats rammed another massive debt down the throat of the Nation.

The debt and spending cannot be sustained. We can never allow progressive democrats to be this near to power again. November and 2012 we can take our Nation back and restore fiscal sanity.

Posted by: Bubbette1 | April 16, 2010 12:56 AM | Report abuse

Thanks to the three Republicans who joined Democrats to make it at least somewhat less difficult for the victims of the actions by high income big bankers which should be considered criminal. But it's still outrageous the the rest of the Republicans joined yet another Republican filibuster which again shows the complete lack of any humanity on the part of the bulk of the Republican party.

Posted by: twm1 | April 16, 2010 12:45 AM | Report abuse

IMMIGRANTS,they are the key to creating jobs,i live down the street from TYSON FOODS MANUFACTORING,and they are 90% employed with immigrants,thats almost 2000 people, imagine if you was revoke their visa's and give unemployed REAL AMERICANS those jobs, and do that all over the U.S.A,that would knock the unemployment rate down a whole lot,but there are those ignorant AMERICANS who think it isn't fair to do that,EVEN though every single ONE of those immigrants were told before they came over here,that the visa's could be revoked at anytime for no reason,and they all signed an agreement stating NO PROBLEMO,now how is that unfair,but who cares,as long as the rest of the world is taking care of right,

Posted by: stevenknight72 | April 15, 2010 8:30 PM | Report abuse

Thankyou Senator's for having a heart. i'm on unemployment, although i do agree there are those who are taking advantage of unemployments, there are those like myself who don't and are very grateful,it's wrong to punish alot of good people for the mistake of a few, i know people who abuse foodstamps and sell their prescriptions paid for by medicare, but does that mean we need to stop giving families help with buying food, and kick everybody off of medicare,i don't think so, it's just how things work,all ways has and always will

Posted by: stevenknight72 | April 15, 2010 8:19 PM | Report abuse

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