Unemployment Extension Bill Clears Senate Hurdle
On Tuesday, the Senate voted 60-40 to move forward with the Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2010 (H.R. 4213), (pdf) legislation that would, among other things, extend federal unemployment insurance benefits through November 2010, and retroactively reinstate the unemployment benefits program that expired in May. Senator Carte Goodwin (D-WV), who was sworn in as the interim replacement for the late Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), provided the additional vote necessary to advance the bill. These measures were initially included in a much more expansive tax extender bill that failed to gain sufficient support in the Senate. According to a summary, (pdf) the significantly pared-down version of H.R. 4213 would do the following:
- Extend the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program through November 2010, and apply its benefits retroactively to June 2. Depending on a state’s unemployment rate, the program provides up to 53 weeks of extended benefits.
- Continue the Extended Benefits (EB) program through November 2010. This program, which expired in May, provides up to an additional 13 weeks of benefits in states with unemployment rates at or exceeding 6.5 %, and up to 20 weeks of benefits in states with unemployment rates at or above 8 %.
- Eliminate the penalty for part-time employment in the EUC program. The bill would coordinate EUC benefits with regular benefits by providing states with a number of options to allow EUC claimants to remain eligible for the EUC program when they become newly entitled to state unemployment compensation, if switching to state benefits would reduce their weekly UI check by at least $100 or 25 %.
The legislation also would extend the homebuyer tax credit, and make adjustments to other miscellaneous federal programs. Assuming the Senate ultimately approves this measure, the House of Representatives will need to conduct its own vote before the President signs it into law.