GOP kills unemployment aid extension

Frank Wallace, out of work since May 2009: No help from GOP (AP)

Republicans on Thursday defeated Democrats’ showcase election-year jobs bill, including an extension of weekly unemployment benefits for millions of people out of work more than six months.

The 57-41 vote fell three votes short of the 60 required to crack a GOP filibuster, delivering a major blow to President Barack Obama and Democrats facing big losses of House and Senate seats in the fall election.

The rejected bill would also have provided $16 billion in new aid to states, preserving the jobs of thousands of state and local government workers and providing what White House officials called an insurance policy against a double-dip recession. It also included dozens of tax breaks sought by business lobbyists, and tax increases on domestically produced oil and on investment fund managers.

The demise of the bill means that unemployment benefits will phase out for more than 200,000 people a week. Governors who had been counting on federal aid will now have to consider a fresh round of budget cuts, tax hikes and layoffs of state workers.

“This is a bill that would remedy serious challenges that American families face as a result of this Great Recession,” said Max Baucus, D-Mont., the chief author of the bill. “This is a bill that works to build a stronger economy. This is a bill to put Americans back to work.”

The bill has been sharply pared back after weeks of negotiations with GOP moderates Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine. The most recent version, unveiled Wednesday night, contained new cuts to food stamps and pared back the state aid provision to allow Democrats to claim the measure was fully paid for except for the unemployment insurance extension.

That didn’t move Republicans like Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

“It adds new taxes and over $30 billion to an already staggering $13 trillion dollar national debt,” said McConnell.

Only one Democrat, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, voted with Republicans. Another, Robert Byrd of West Virginia, did not vote.

After the Senate vote, the House passed by a 417-1 vote a measure to reverse a 21 percent federal fee cut imposed last week on doctors providing care to seniors on Medicare. That measure was one of the most important contained in the now-dead catchall bill, but was broken out and passed separately by the Senate last week.

The House’s move would send the stand-alone Medicare fee fix to Obama for his signature.

Democrats hope that political pressure from voters outraged about the cutoff of jobless benefits averaging $300 a week and from business groups seeking renewal of longstanding tax breaks might eventually revive the bill.

The latest version of the measure contains a variety of provisions sought by lawmakers in both parties, anchored by the jobless aid and dozens of tax cuts sought by the business groups. The latest draft would add $33 billion to the deficit — down from the $80 billion deficit impact of the measure when it came to the floor two weeks ago.

The catchall measure also includes farm disaster aid, $1 billion for a youth summer jobs initiative and an extension of a bond program that subsidizes interest costs for state and local infrastructure projects. It would levy a new tax on investment fund managers but extend tax breaks such as lucrative credits that help businesses finance research and develop new products, and a sales tax deduction that mainly helps people in states without income taxes.

The death of the measure would mean that more than 200,000 people a week would lose their jobless benefits because they would be unable to reapply for additional tiers of benefits enacted since 2008. People seeking the popular homebuyer tax credit would be denied a paperwork extension approved by the Senate last week. And state and local governments would lose subsidies on bonds they issue to finance infrastructure projects.

It also includes $4.6 billion to settle a long-running class-action lawsuit brought by black farmers against the Agriculture Department for discrimination and another by American Indians involving the government’s management and accounting of more than 300,000 trust accounts.

By the end of this week, more than 1.2 million people will have lost their jobless benefits since a temporary extension expired at the beginning of the month, according to Labor Department estimates.

Thirty states had been counting on federal support to help balance their budgets for the fiscal year beginning next week since a $24 billion version had earlier passed both House and Senate. Without the money, governors warn they’ll have to lay off tens of thousands of workers.

Crestfallen Democrats tried in vain to win support from moderate Republicans Snowe, Collins and Scott Brown of Massachusetts. They voted in March to defeat a filibuster.

“The debt is out of control,” Brown said. “Since I did that last time, the debt’s at over $13 trillion and rising.”

The bill has long been considered a must-pass measure, but the political sands have shifted since it first passed in March. That vote came in the wake of a political scalding for Republicans after Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., blocked a short-term extension of jobless aid.

In the interim, however, the debt crisis in Europe and growing anxiety on deficits and debt among voters has turned Republicans against the legislation, even though it’s been cut considerably since passage of a March version that would have added about $100 billion to the debt.

Most of the measure — except for a six-month extension of jobless benefits for people who have been out of work for more than six months — is financed with offsetting tax increases or spending cuts. Congress has always approved additional unemployment benefits as a deficit-financed emergency measure.

Democratic leaders said they bent over backwards to accommodate demands by Republicans for a smaller measure. Among the cuts revealed Wednesday was a more than $10 billion cut from last year’s stimulus bill, mostly buy paring back food stamp benefits by about $11 a month per beneficiary.

“They asked to have it reduced, we did it,” said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. “They asked to have it paid for, we did it.”

Just before the vote, Snowe said she opposed the measure because of new taxes on small businesses. She said Democrats had gone back on an offer to delete a tax provision aimed at small businesses that shelter income as dividends exempt from payroll taxes.

Snowe said the measure was drafted too broadly and would have ensnared businesses that aren’t abusing the system.

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press

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8 Responses to "GOP kills unemployment aid extension"

  1. paulb6  June 25, 2010 at 6:29 am

    I think Capitol Hill Blue should learn to read, if the senate democrats have a majority, how can you blame the republicans for the failure to pass this bill, oh I see, you hate republicans so just blame them, I get how you play the game!!!

    • Dennis  June 25, 2010 at 11:19 am

      Its not a matter of liking or disliking Republicans. The simple fact is an emergency spending bill (over 9 % unemployment is an emergency) requires 60 votes in the senate. The Democrats do not have a 60 vote majority, some Republicans needed to support the bill. Furthermore, why would helping the long-term unemployed, prevent massive layoffs by state governments and supporting small businesses be just a Democrat issue. I think you need to turn off Fox and Limbaugh and get informed about what is really going on here- The Republicans understandably want as many seats as possible in the fall. What better way to guarantee that then by sending the recession into a second free fall, as happened in 1937. That is what defeat of this bill may very well result in. Wake up.

  2. paulb6  June 25, 2010 at 7:21 am

    It is my hope that this will back fire on the Republicans. I have heard it suggested that the president take steps to set up FEMA trailers from all the homeless people (WHO HAVE MOSTLY WORKED HARD ALL THEIR LIVES) that will result. That is how serious this matter is.

    I think Americans are sick of this and it is going to show in November. Are we really to believe that EVERY Republican voted their conscience? Even those from high unemployment states? This is ALL about politics, and shows how bad things are getting in Washington. They are like little children who can’t play together. So the Republicans are going to take their ball and go home. It is shameful.

  3. Julie  June 25, 2010 at 11:26 am

    paulb6, The demacrates needed at least two Republicans to vote yea in order to break the fillabuster. Which the republicans invoked. As far as the blame game I believe it is every senators fault, both sides offered an ammendment and neither one was used. Now we will have millions more people without the help they need. I believe that this will result in a major crime wave. Most people that were receiving benefits have already been pushed to the edge by the waiting game and no the Senate has nicely told us we can kiss their a**.

  4. paulb6  June 27, 2010 at 7:01 am

    I think that you people expect us to support the unemployed forever, as this is how long it will take with Obama’s lack of leadership, I for one say strip most of the stips from labor union public employees and you could resolve many of this countrys problems, lets see 25% of the entire population of the US is on the public trough, this is never substainable but you hear the freeloaders demand raises etc etc ad nausem. Get real !!!

  5. VEE  June 27, 2010 at 9:15 am

    PASS THE EXTENSION ALREADY!!CONGRESS NEEDS TO STOP PLAYING THESE GAMES WITH THE UNEMPLOYED.THE UNEMPLOYED NEED HELP NOW,. SINCE FOR EVERY JOB THERE 5 TO 6 PEOPLE APPLYING FOR IT, IT SEEMS TO BE A NO BRAINER, TO PASS THIS EXTENSION. wHEN THE UNEMPLOYED CANNOT PAY FOR FOOD, RENT, CLOTHING, ETC. FOR THE FAMILY, PEOPLE SUFFER AND THEY BECOME HOPELESS ABOUT THE FUTURE. CONGRESS NEEDS TO PASS THIS EXTENSION BEFORE THE 4TH RECESS. MILLIONS OF PEOPLE ARE DEPENDING ON THEM TO DO THE RIGHT THING. STOP PLAYING POLITICS AND DO WHAT IS RIGHT FOR THE UNEMPLOYED AMERICANS WHO LOST THERE JOBS BY NO FAULT OF THEIR OWN.!!!!PASS THE UNEMPLOYMENT EXTENSION NOW!!!!!!

  6. david puckett  June 29, 2010 at 11:48 pm

    $3346.15
    $13384.61
    $174000.00

    $405.00

    What are the numbers above. The first number is the amount a rank and file member of Congress earns per WEEK. The second number is what they earn per MONTH and the third number is what they earn per YEAR.

    What is the fourth number…that is the typical unemployment check earned per week by those still looking for work.

    Think about it. In the lower chamber, there are 177 Congressman that get paid more than $83 per HOUR to say NO. They have said no to everything.

    There are 41 in the upper chamber doing the same thing.

    Yet these people have the gall to tell those that are unemployed that they don’t want to extend benefits any further because those lush benefits are making them lazy and making it so nice for them that don’t need to look for work.

    Where is the outrage?

    Why is this not being treated as an emergency?

    Why does the Fed worry about inflation, when one of their mandates is to work towards full employment?

  7. Mightymo  June 30, 2010 at 10:58 am

    This is typical Republiscum BS! Keeping people in payroll is vitally important, especially at a time when the economy is certainly heading towards a depression of major proportion!
    Now I also certainly agree that keeping people in payroll with the result of deficit spending is counter productive. After all, a major part of this economic mess is a direct result of years of irresponsible public and government deficit spending.
    But it is so important to keep people feed and with at least a minimal amount of money in their pockets, the government should immediately implement military spending cuts and divert the money towards unemployment payments. If it means withdrawing our of Iraq and Afghanistan at an excellerated rate, so be it.
    But there is money to be saved there, and it’s money that is leaving the country and not doing us any good. Keep it here where it belongs, especially now, more than ever!!!

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