Four Weeks Later, Senate Unanimously Passes Bill Extending Unemployment Benefits
Twenty-seven days, four votes and a long lesson in tedium later, the upper chamber has passed legislation extending unemployment benefits by at least 14 weeks in every state. The final tally was 98-0.
Similar legislation passed the House more than six weeks ago, but the bill has been held up in the Senate as party leaders did battle over a series of controversial GOP amendments. The final bill included only two amendments: a provision extending a popular tax credit for homebuyers, and another allowing businesses to recoup taxes they paid in recent years.
The bill now moves to the House, which will vote on it Thursday. Afterward, the proposal will travel to the White House for the president’s signature, which will make it law.
The benefits are not retroactive, so those whose checks stopped coming before the bill’s enactment shouldn’t hold their breath for back-pay. It’s not coming. But those folks will be eligible for at least 14 weeks of benefits moving forward. In states where unemployment rates are higher than 8.5 percent, the new benefits will run for 20 weeks.
For anyone wishing to relive the entire tedious saga, a brief(ish) chronology goes like this:
- Sept. 22: The House passes its version of the unemployment bill, which would extend benefits for 13 weeks, but only in those states where jobless rates top 8.5 percent.
- Oct. 8: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) asks for unanimous consent to pass the Senate’s amended version of the House bill. Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) objects, citing the absence of a cost estimate.
- Oct. 13: Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) asks for consent to pass the bill. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) objects.
- Oct. 21: Reid files cloture on a vote to proceed to the bill.
- Oct. 26: Reid asks for GOP consent to pass the bill. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) objects.
- Oct. 27: The Senate votes to proceed to the bill by a tally of 87 to 13.
- Oct. 29: Reid asks for consent to pass the bill. McConnell objects.
- Oct. 29: Reid files two sequential cloture motions — one on the Senate substitute bill and one on the underlying House bill.
- Nov. 2: The Senate hops the first cloture hurdle by a count of 85 to 2. The 30-hour clock before the next cloture vote begins ticking.
- Nov. 4: The Senate hops the second cloture hurdle by a count of 97 to 1. By a previous agreement, the 30-hour clock before the final vote had begun ticking about 12 hours before.
- Nov. 4: A deal is struck between Reid and McConnell to disregard the remainder of the 30-hour post-cloture clock, leading to the staging of the final vote.