Senate Passes Jobless Benefits Bill, Which Now Goes To The House To Die

April 7, 2014 6:20 p.m.

The Democratic-led Senate passed legislation Monday to revive long-term unemployment benefits though May, after months of negotiations that eventually secured enough votes to break a Republican filibuster.

The final vote was 59-38, with Republican Sens. Kelly Ayotte (NH), Susan Collins (ME), Dean Heller (NV), Mirk Kirk (IL), Lisa Murkowski (AK) and Rob Portman (OH) joining Democrats and the two independents in its favor. (Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Tom Coburn (R-OK) did not vote.)

The legislation is based on a bipartisan deal struck last month between Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) and Dean Heller (R-NV). It includes retroactive compensation for the roughly 2 million unemployed workers who lost their benefits when the program expired on Dec. 28. The roughly $10 billion cost is covered with pension reforms and user fees.

The bill now goes to the Republican-led House, where it’s unlikely to come up. Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has spoken out against it, and many conservatives don’t want to revive the emergency jobless program, which first passed in 2008 and compensates Americans looking for work for up to 99 weeks.

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“As the Speaker said months ago, we are willing to look at extending emergency unemployment insurance as long as it includes provisions to help create more private-sector jobs – but, last week, Senate Democratic Leaders ruled out adding any jobs measures at all,” said Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner, on Monday. “The American people are still asking, ‘where are the jobs?’ and House Republicans are focused on our jobs agenda for families and small businesses.”

The Congressional Budget Office projected in December that extending emergency unemployment benefits would raise economic output and employment in 2014, because people who receive the benefits would spend it and spur an increase in demand.

“That increase in aggregate demand would encourage businesses to boost production and hire more workers than they otherwise would, particularly given the expected slack in the capital and labor markets,” CBO said. “However, those positive effects on output and employment in 2014 would be partially offset by the effects of an increase in the duration of unemployment for some people.”

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