PI Original Adam Doster Tuesday September 22nd, 2009, 12:44pm

Unemployment Benefits Vote Scheduled For Today (UPDATE: Bill Passes 331-83)

The momentum behind extending unemployment benefits is building in
Washington.  Legislation authored by Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) -- which
would extend federal benefits by 13 weeks to the unemployed in states like Illinois where jobless rates are higher than 8.5 percent -- ...

The momentum behind extending unemployment benefits is building in Washington.  Legislation authored by Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) -- which would extend federal benefits by 13 weeks to the unemployed in states like Illinois where jobless rates are higher than 8.5 percent -- will come up for a vote today, according to The Hill. Debate on H.R. 3548 begins at 1 p.m. CT on CSPAN and the bill is expected to pass. With Republican senators telling supportive Democrats that they won't vote against the $1.4 billion measure if it's adequately financed, it could also move quickly through the upper chamber in the next few weeks. To cover the cost, McDermott's bill would continue a federal unemployment tax former President Bush extended as part of the TARP bill last October.

The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities calls H.R. 3548 "an appropriate response to the continuing harsh conditions in the labor market." For one, the legislation is well-targeted; over 80 percent of the projected 1.3 million unemployed workers who will exhaust their benefits by the end of the year live in a state with an unemployment rate at or above 8.5 percent. Also worth noting: During the last two recessions, unemployment did not rebound until many months after the economy began expanding. And providing a cushion to folks looking for work is quite stimulative for the economy at large.

We'll be watching the debate this afternoon and will update this post with any further details.

UPDATE (1:45 PM): According to CSPAN, the unemployments benefit debate has been delayed until "later today."

(2:45 PM): The debate has begun on the bill.  Rep. McDermott is arguing in favor of it now: "Providing these Americans with a modest economic lifeline is not only the humane thing to do," he just said, "it's in the economic interest of the country."

(3:10 PM): Debate on the bill just concluded and it appears the vote has been postponed until this evening.  The House will reconvene at 5:30 PM CT. 

(3:35 PM): As Doris notes in the comments below, several members of Congress spoke in favor of the measure this afternoon.  Here's video of Illinois' own Danny Davis:

(6:15 PM): The House just voted 331-83 to pass H.R. 3548.

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