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Bi-partisan bill to extend unemployment benefits fails procedural votes in the Senate
by Nathan'ette Burdine: January 31, 2014

After passing the first procedural vote on January 7, 2014, the bi-partisan bill that will extend unemployment benefits has failed several procedural votes in the Senate.

Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) and Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) co-sponsored the Emergency Compensation Unemployment Extension Act bill, S.1845.

The bill extends unemployment benefits for three months to individuals who are unemployed at no fault of their own.

The Senate voted on January 9, 2014, and January 14, 2014, on procedural issues associated with the unemployment benefits extension bill.

During each session, the Senate didn’t get the 60 votes needed in order to break the filibuster and move the bill forward.  With a vote of 42-54, the Senate rejected a motion on January 9, 2014, to send bill S.1845 to the Finance Committee.

And on January 14, 2014, the Senate voted 45-55 to not send bill S.1845 to the Finance Committee with instructions.  Also on that day, the Senate voted 52-48 and rejected a motion to invoke cloture on several amendments that were attached to bill S.1845.

The Senate’s final vote on that day concerning the unemployment benefits extension ended with the Senate voting 55-45, rejecting a motion to invoke cloture on bill S.1845.

Senator Heller broke from his party and voted with Democrats on January 9, 2014, and on January 14, 2014.  His vote on January 14, 2014, was 1 of the 55 votes in favor of the motion to invoke cloture on bill S.1845.  Party leaders attribute the bill’s failure to partisanship.

According to a January 15, 2014, press release, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said that Republicans didn’t intend to pass the bill.

Reid said, “Last night’s vote to block emergency unemployment insurance was politics as usual for Republicans, but it was a tragedy for millions of Americans who were relying on Congress to help them get through hard times.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) argued that the Democrats are using the unemployment benefits extension as a way to distract from “Obamacare.”

Senator McConnell is quoted in a January 15, 2014, press release as saying, “…Look: It’s no secret that Democrats plan to spend the year exploiting folks who are still struggling in this economy for political gain.  They’ve been telling reporters that for weeks.  But that doesn’t make it any less disturbing.  It’s still wrong.  I’d probably want to be talking about something other than Obamacare too if I’d voted for it.”

The Emergency Compensation Unemployment Extension bill is a part of the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) Act, which former President George W. Bush signed into law in June 2008.

After signing the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, President Obama extended the EUC program.  However, due to the Ryan-Murray budget not including funding for the program, the program ended on December 28, 2013.

As a result of the program ending, there were 1.3 million people who lost their unemployment benefits.  The White House Economic Council’s report, “The Economic Benefits of Unemployment Insurance,” stated that 3.6 million people will lose their benefits by the end of 2014 if the program isn’t extended.

President Obama has said that he will go around Congress and work with organizations and universities in order to create new jobs that will provide an affordable income that will sustain the middle class.

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