The Senate has finally authorized extended unemployment benefits (Emergency Unemployment Compensation), by unanimously passing the underlying bill for the Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2009.
Update: Congress and President Obama have again extended unemployment benefits since this blog was published.
The House of Representatives passed their version of the extended unemployment benefits bill (H.R.3548, Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2009), which covered only states with high unemployment rates, and sent it to the Senate weeks ago.
The Senate then introduced a better version of the bill that extended benefits in all states; but, Senate Republicans repeatedly blocked it until they ran out of procedural loopholes.
The differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill might now require reconciliation, but sources say that the House is likely to soon pass the Senate’s version as is or close.
After anticipated House approval, the final new bill will likely authorize extended unemployment benefits for 14 additional weeks in all states, plus an extra 6 weeks in states with unemployment rates of 8.5 percent or higher.
It’s estimated that eligible unemployed workers in about half of the states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, will be entitled to the extra 6 weeks of extended unemployment benefits for a total of 20 weeks.
The final bill will also likely extend and expand the stimulus first-time homebuyer tax credit, and provide a tax break for businesses through a net operating-loss carryback provision.
Subsequently, the Senate’s bill (H.R.3548.EAS) is now referred to as the “Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009,” instead of the “Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2009” as originally titled by the House.
Regardless of what it’s called, President Obama is expected to sign the final new bill into law at his first opportunity.
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