PI Original Adam Doster Tuesday October 13th, 2009, 10:27am

Senators Try To Squeeze Unemployment Benefit Bill Into Schedule

Last Thursday night, multiple sources verified that Senate Democrats had reached a deal on an extension of unemployment benefits. Now, the  leadership caucus is fighting to bring the bill (S. 1647) to the floor for a vote.Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid tried to pass the bill ...

Last Thursday night, multiple sources verified that Senate Democrats had reached a deal on an extension of unemployment benefits. Now, the  leadership caucus is fighting to bring the bill (S. 1647) to the floor for a vote.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid tried to pass the bill through unanimous consent last week, but his request was blockedby Republican senators who are generally supportive of the legislationbut would prefer to pay for it without a tax increase. Democrats haveproposed extending the federal unemployment surtax for an additional 18months, a maneuver the GOP wants scoredby the Congressional Budget Office. If they can't reach an agreementthis week, the bill could be squeezed out for at least another monthbecause of the Senate's stacked floor schedule.

Even though this version of the bill is broader than what passed theHouse, it's not perfect. As written, those Illinoisans whose benefitsexpire in 2010 or later would not qualify for the additional 20 weeks,for example. Even so, it would provide another lifeline to an estimated40,000 people set to exhaust their insurance by the end of the year.The longer Congress deliberates, the more people will lose their solesource of income.

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