The House of Representatives passed a bill twice introduced by Democrats, that would grant extended unemployment benefits to eligible unemployed workers. That’s the good news.
Update: Congress and President Obama have since approved bills to extend unemployment benefits.
The bad news is, the Bush administration threatened to veto the bill, because it will cost too much in its current form.
In the absence of a Presidential veto, the bill would extend state unemployment benefits for 13 weeks across the board to eligible unemployed workers.
The bill would also extend benefits for an extra 13 weeks to eligible unemployed workers in states that have exceptionally high unemployment, for a total of 26 weeks.
Standard state unemployment benefits typically last for 26 weeks, while Federally-granted extended unemployment benefits typically last for an additional 13 or 26 weeks, depending on the severity of unemployment.
The monthly unemployment rate shot up from 5.0 percent in April to 5.5 percent in May. It was the largest monthly rise since 1986 and it increased the number of jobless American workers to 8.5 million. On the heels of that bad news came more, in that weekly initial claims for state unemployment benefits jumped up by 25,000 in the first week of June.
Regardless, the House had initially refused to pass the bill on June 11, after President Bush threatened to veto it; but, House Democrats resubmitted it on June 12 for the new vote that passed it.
Still, it’s unlikely that the Senate will pass the bill too, considering that the President has threatened to veto it in its current form. Among other reasons for the President to veto the bill, the Bush administration indicated that it’s irresponsible to extend unemployment benefits in all states, regardless of the unemployment rate in each state.
However, the Bush administration further indicated that they might support a revised bill that provides only 13 weeks of extended benefits, just in states that have high unemployment rates.
To see the history of the bill, refer to H.R.5749 entitled “Emergency Extended Unemployment Compensation Act of 2008“. If the Act becomes law in its current or another form, Employee Rights Blog will let you know. Subscribe to receive updates.
Update: As anticipated, the Senate blocked consideration of the bill. (See the blog post “Extended Unemployment Benefits Blocked” for more information.) However, both Congress and the President have approved a new bill that authorizes extended unemployment benefits for 13 weeks.