While the bill faces an uncertain future in the House, the Senate voted Thursday to move forward with legislation temporarily extending federal unemployment benefits.
The Senate voted 65 to 34 to begin debate on the proposal, with 10 Republicans voting to proceed along with all 55 members of the Democratic caucus. A vote on final approval is expected next week.
The bill, which was crafted by a bipartisan group of ten senators, extends benefits for the long-term unemployed for five months and allows for retroactive payments to eligible beneficiaries going back to December 28th, when the previous program expired.
The roughly $10 billion cost of the extension would be offset by changes to federal retirement programs known as "pension smoothing" as well as an extension of customs user fees through 2024.
The legislation also includes a boost for job placement programs and ends unemployment benefits to any individual whose gross income in the previous year topped $1 million.
However, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has expressed concerns about the bill, citing a letter a group of state administrators of unemployment insurance laws sent to Senate leaders that suggested the legislation may be unworkable.
The letter from the National Association of State Workforce Agencies claimed the proposed legislation would cause considerable delays in the implementation of the program and increased administrative issues and costs.
NASWA also indicated that the proposed legislation could take from one to three months to implement, by which time the extension and thus the program would have again expired.
"We have always said that we're willing to look at extending emergency unemployment benefits again, if Washington Democrats can come up with a plan that is fiscally-responsible, and gets to the root of the problem by helping to create more private-sector jobs," Boehner said last week
He added, "There is no evidence that the bill being rammed through the Senate by Leader Reid meets that test, and according to these state directors, the bill is also simply unworkable."
by RTT Staff Writer
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