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Senate Introduces Scaled Back ‘Extenders’ Bill After Procedural Vote Fails

From the National Skills Coalition on 6-17-10. 

Following a failed vote on the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act (HR 4213), the tax ‘extenders’ bill that includes a range of investments in job training and worker support programs, Senate leaders on Wednesday evening introduced a scaled back substitute amendment in an effort to attract the 60 votes needed to advance toward a final vote on the measure. The new amendment would reduce certain unemployment insurance (UI) benefits, but maintains other key workforce provisions, including:

  • $1 billion in funding for summer jobs programs for youth;
  • expansion of the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) Community College and Career Training Grant Program to include individuals who are eligible (or are likely to be eligible) for UI, or who have exhausted their UI benefits; and
  • an extension of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Emergency Contingency Fund through September 2011, plus an additional $2.5 billion for the program in Fiscal Year (FY) 2011.

The amendment also retains roughly $24 billion in federal Medicaid assistance (FMAP) to states, which will help to avert layoffs of thousands of state and local employees.

The Senate voted 45-52 to reject a procedural motion on the original $140 billion bill Wednesday morning, a result that was not unexpected as a number of moderate Democratic and Republican Senators had indicated their concerns about overall spending in the bill. The new substitute amendment reduces the estimated cost of the measure to $118 billion, and offsets more of the costs to reduce the impact on the federal deficit.

While most of the proposed changes do not directly affect the workforce development field, the modified language would eliminate the Federal Additional Compensation (FAC) program, which was originally authorized as part of a range of unemployment insurance benefits under the Recovery Act and provides an additional $25 in weekly unemployment assistance for qualifying individuals. There had been concerns that cutting the FAC program could have the further consequence of reducing state UI benefits, as the Recovery Act included “non-reduction” language prohibiting states from cutting their own benefit levels if they accepted FAC funding. Fortunately, the non-reduction rule was reinstated in the final draft amendment as part of the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program which, along with the Extended Benefits (EB) program, will be extended through November 2010.

It is expected that the Senate will take a procedural vote on the modified amendment late Thursday or early Friday, though it is unclear at this time whether the proposed changes will be sufficient to advance the bill. An alternative proposal offered by Senator Thune (R-SD), that would have frozen federal employees’ salaries and cut discretionary spending outside of the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments by five percent, failed a procedural vote 41-57 on Thursday afternoon.

16 Responses

  1. UPDATE FROM THE CENTER FOR LAW AND SOCIAL POLICY

    The Senate Finance Committee introduced a new version of the extenders bill last night.

    We’re very pleased to see that there are no changes to the TANF Emergency Fund or summer jobs provisions.

    There are some big cuts in the bill, compared to the last version. The FMAP increase would be phased out over the six month extension, reducing the aid to states. In a new twist, the ARRA increase in SNAP (food stamps) would be ended as of June 1, 2014. (Under current law, it’s supposed to stay in place until the value of regular benefits catches up to the increased benefit – which depends on the rate of inflation for food, but isn’t projected to happen until after 2014.)

    Summary of changes at: http://finance.senate.gov/legislation/download/?id=2f2758ac-ba7f-41cc-bd1a-bfbdb05913f5
    Bill text at: http://finance.senate.gov/legislation/download/?id=97d77aef-5485-4cf8-b280-0509e86575f5

    The Senate is scheduled to vote on this no later than tomorrow, but they could move it up to today if they agree (which they might, since they’d like to get out of town for the weekend). If the Senate passes it, the House is likely to take it up this week as well.

    News articles suggest that the Senate leadership is still not certain that they have 60 votes. The main targets appear to be Sen. Snowe and Collins, Sen. Nelson of Nebraska, and Sen. Lieberman. If you have any ability to reach them, please do so.

  2. I have been following H.R. 4213’s progress the last week. I, too, am like many others that through nofault of my own am unemployed.
    I have tears in my eyes as I type this in hope that someone of importance will read and see that people are desparate to have some money coming in while they continue to look for work.My husband lost his SEB and my benefits are soon to run out. I have two children and my two granddaughters that depend on me. We are not lazy people. I go to church and try to raise my children the best I can. It is the children I am worried about.I am praying that the senate will have compassion on the people who are having problems supporting their families. We will continue to look for work, but please,please give the families like ours at chance to find work and not have to worry how they will house and feed their children.The stress of job hunting is enough without not having money to pay the bills.Waiting for this bill to pass is almost too much to bear!

  3. And about the taking ouf of the $25 extra a week?? Do we not have it bad enough already? We have become accustomed to living off of the amount of UE we get and now you are going to make that much more difficult to get by? What the hell is wrong with you men and women of Congress?? You are so out of touch with reality that it is scary. WE got you in office and we can get you the F*** OUT!!!

  4. It is a travesty of EPIC PROPORTION!! I am not sure what is worse, waiting and hoping they will help or coming to the realization that they just don’t care about us anymore. And Obama being so quiet about all of it just makes it all the worse. My EB got cut off and not sure how I am gonna make as a single mom of two as well. Shame on you Congress. Shame on you!!!

  5. Those of us that have been unemployed for one year plus are being discriminated against!!! Companies must assume that after that length of time our brains have erased!!??? I have worked for over 32 years and have more experience than alot of folks. However I don’t speak Spanish, I’m white and over 45! God help this country! Job training? Who can afford to go to school to retrain when we can’t get loans, our credit scores are shot and what pitiful amount of “grant” money doesn’t scratch the surface of funds needed. But this country can continue to dump money overseas. GET A CLUE!!! Folks we don’t have time for “voting people out”! We need help NOW!

    • Amy your are so right I am white over 45 had a lot iof experience but Congress feels like BP does we are the (Small People). My uc ran out last wk and i have a dis-abled husband . I had a good job but lo and behold I got sick. Guess what I was termianted and was there for many yrs at the hospital Oh the hospital I worked at is who fired me. Ironic ha?

  6. I served my country and made a vow to serve and protect against all enemies foriegn and domestic. How do I defend against a goverment that continues to destroy the very fabric of what I almost lost my life for. I carry the very metal in my body for life that reminds me everyday of what I gave for my country. I’ve worked for over 35 years in manufacturing since my med. discharge. My job closed! I need my UI check to survive this enemy I can’t defeat. (The US Senate)

  7. what does it take for congress to see that their are hungry people in america that need this bill to pass it seems to me that congress wants us to be in a worse recession than we allready are

  8. My first 26 weeks will run out soon. Jobs are still hard to find, if we do not get any extensions past the 26 weeks are economy will take much longer to recover.

    • JoAnne,
      Your comment on the economy is too true. Something like 72% of our economy is consumer spending. Just think how that will tank when we cannot pay our mortgages, buy medicine and that ultimate extravagance-food.

  9. only a couple of days of food left and car is almost on empty. I have spent all savings and exhuasted all family resources of help. I have three young boys and they don’t understand the impact of what we are going through. I have two interviews next week and i’m not sure i will have gas to make it there since the only money I have left is the five dimes i’ve found around the house. I have been unemployed since January and I have worked full time since I was 15. I don’t know what to do at this point, plz pass the damn extension!!!

  10. I was expecting to go on EB compensation but can’t. I have already lost my home. I am a single mom of two children and lost my job in the automotive field 13 months ago. Unemployment is barely enough to feed my family but without it I truly do not know how we will eat. I would gladly accept a job flipping burgers at this point but the jobs are not there. I AM NOT LAZY BUT I AM DESPERATE! There is nothing worse than the feeling of looking at your children and trying to figure out how you will feed them, much less clothe them and provide shelter for them.

  11. The Senate is so removed from the needs of everyday Americans. They have no idea what it is like to wonder how food will be bought when all they have to do is ring a bell and their order will appear on a silver tray. People are loosing their homes, going without, trying to find work while you fiddle around over nickle and dime stuff. Cut your free postage & lunch room & gym & office staff. Cut your decorating allowance, phone service, limos, and dry cleaners. Cut the shoe shiners, hair dressers, private chefs, and housing allowances. Hey, Senator Lieberman, when was the last time you worried about paying the mortgage? You over paid, up tight, lobbiest owned, people removed, sound bite prophit, 4 flushin, self interest, profitering, upwardly mobile, wanna be’s, you can’t wash off where you came from cause we be here. So listen up. Do the right thing or lose your cush jobs. Get the vote done. Quit nibbling away. Thank-you

  12. We need something now. So many of us are going to loose everything.

  13. Seems like the bill is going to be so diluted, it has no impact! Come on Congress, get your act together.

    • We should be so lucky Nancy Pelosi flew across the country to Calif in a jet commercial is beneath her.Like the old saying goes the rich get richer and the poor pay for everything. They don’t care as long as there voted into ofc.Siign the damn bill and help us who are unemployed to get extended benefits

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