House fails to move standalone unemployment extension bill


The U.S. House of Representatives failed to pass H.R. 5618, the standalone bill that would’ve extended unemployment benefits. House Democrats suspended certain rules to try to push the bill through on a two-thirds majority, but only got 261 yes votes. As Open Congress reports, “277 votes (a 2/3rds majority of those present and voting) were needed under the suspension of the rules procedure that was used by the Democrats in order to avoid Republican obstruction tactics.” 

The bill would’ve extended unemployment benefits until Nov. 30, 2010. Writes Open Congress:

Republicans opposed the bill because it’s costs, approximately $34 billion, were not offset with new revenue. Since the financial crisis of 2008, Congress has routinely passed UI extension bills without offsets because benefit payments to help the unemployed are considered “emergency spending” and are not subject to pay-as-you-go rules.

The bill that was rejected today would have extended UI benefit payments, which expired in late May, until November 30, 2010. Without the extension, some 1.7 million unemployed people will lose their payment by Jul 3. Benefits for the unemployed will continue to run out at a rate of about 200,000 per week until an extension is signed into law.

Minnesota’s congressional delegates voted along party lines, with one exception: Rep. James Oberstar didn’t vote.

Today’s development leaves Democrats with two options: either they must try to pass it under normal rules – which requires a simple majority – or they can try to find revenue to offset the costs of the extension. But the bill’s not dead; for now it goes back to the Rules Committee, where it’ll await another vote.