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Expansion of Unemployment Insurance Stalled by ACORN, Immigration Amendments

The stalling of legislation to expand unemployment insurance (UI) has little to do with the benefit itself. First, there’s a push to attach an extended homebuyer tax credit to the bill — something the Obama administration is wary of.

But also there’s this: Republicans are hoping to attach a number of amendments related to ACORN and immigration — provisions that have delayed floor action on the UI bill indefinitely, according to the offices of both Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

The agreement ends after that.

The Republican amendments include at least two provisions related to ACORN; one related to the E-Verify program; one to pay for the UI benefits with unspent stimulus money; and one providing tax relief.

Reid’s office says the amendments are unrelated and therefore have no place in the debate over jobless benefits. “These are tactics that Republicans have used in the past to delay,” a Reid aide said. “It seems as if they aren’t negotiating in good faith on this.”

For its part, McConnell’s office conceded that “some of the amendments” are related to ACORN and immigration. But, a spokesperson said, the “related” changes would improve the bill.

Earlier this month, a group of Senate Democrats introduced a proposal to expand unemployment insurance benefits by 14 weeks nationwide, with a 20-week extension benefiting those states with unemployment rates higher than 8.5 percent. The House has already passed a more stingy version of the bill, granting a 13-week extension only in those states with unemployment topping 8.5 percent.

Senate Democratic leaders have twice tried to get the consent of GOP leaders to pass the bill, only to be shot down over procedural sticking points.

An Oct. 22 update is here.

Some movement here, also as of Oct. 22.

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