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 Politics Archive 2014

The Senate fails to pass the unemployment benefits bill
by Nathan'ette Burdine: February 24, 2014

On February 6, 2014, the Senate voted to not pass the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act bill, S.1845. The vote was 55 to 43. Two senators did not vote.

The Senate needed 60 votes in order to invoke cloture and move the bill forward. The bill’s sponsors, Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) and Senator Dean Heller (R-NV), voted to pass the bill.

Both Reed and Heller stated that passing the bill will help the 1.8 million Americans who lost their unemployment benefits on December 28, 2013, and would help to counter the economic loss that the White House Economic Council said will occur if the unemployment benefits aren’t extended.

During an earlier vote, the Senate voted 58 to 40 to not invoke cloture and move forward on Sen. Reed’s amendment, SA. 2714. Two senators did not cast votes on the amendment.

The amendment would extend unemployment benefits for three months to individuals who lost their benefits in December and it would also end unemployment benefits for individuals making $1,000,000 or greater.

In a February 4, 2014, press release, Sen. Reed stated that ending unemployment benefits for individuals with a $1,000,000 or greater yearly salary is based on a provision that Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) included in a previous bill.

Sen. Coburn didn’t vote for Sen. Reed’s amendment or the unemployment extension bill.  According to the Associated Press , Senator Coburn reasoned that passing the unemployment extension bill would not “fix” the problem of Americans not having jobs that would enable them to get off of unemployment.

He cautioned that extending the unemployment benefits could result in more Americans not looking for work and remaining unemployed for longer periods of time.

It is a sentiment that other Republicans like Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), who voted in favor of Sen. Reed’s amendment, also expressed.

After the January 7, 2014 procedural vote, Sen. Collins and Sen. Ayotte issued press releases stating that they believed that discussing the bill was important but that they would also like to see a more “viable” solution to the unemployment problem that included a plan to pay for the unemployment benefits.

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