Fall 2009

·       On September 22, the House passed legislation (H.R. 3548) to provide up to 13 additional weeks of unemployment benefits to workers in high unemployment states who are about to run out of benefits.

·       Senate Republicans delayed action on this bill for more than a month — leaving 500,000 Americans without unemployment benefits when they needed them the most.

February 2010

·       The House passed Temporary Extension Act (H.R. 4691), emergency legislation to extend UI benefits and certain other programs about to expire for 30 days on February 25.

·       But Republican Senator Jim Bunning singlehandedly blocked passage of this emergency measure, despite the serious consequences for families across the nation.  He objected to Democrats’ 11 requests to extend unemployment benefits.[Congressional Record, 2/24/10; Senate Floor, 2/25/10, 2/26/10, 3/1/10]  And when Sen. Merkley (D-Ore.) begged him to drop his objection, Bunning replied: “Tough shit.” [Politico, 2/25]

·       This resulted in a three-day shut down of these critical programs that jeopardized unemployment benefits for more than one million Americans and furloughed thousands of highway and transit workers.

March 2010

·       The House passed the bill the Continuing Extension Act to extend unemployment benefits and other critical programs for 30 days on March 17, 2010.

·       But Senator Coburn blocked consideration of this bill.  “Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) has blocked passage of a crucial package of expiring provisions, including extended unemployment insurance benefits that are scheduled to run out on April 5. Coburn has balked at Democrats’ request for unanimous consent to pass the extensions, threatening a standoff similar to one that pitted Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) against the Democratic leadership last month.” [The Hill, 3/25/10]

·       With Senate Republicans action, these programs lapsed for twelve days.  The Senate then extended unemployment benefits through May 29, 2010 — twenty-nine days later on April 15, 2010.

June 2010

·       The House passed the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act (H.R. 4213), an American job creation bill which extends unemployment benefits for six months on May 28.

·       Senate Republicans have blocked moving forward on this crucial job creating legislation all month.  Republicans blocked cloture to proceed to the bill on June 17. Even after more changes were made to achieve a compromise, Republicans blocked cloture again on June 24.

·       On June 29, more than 80 percent of House Republicans vote down a six month extension of unemployment benefits. [House Vote 398]

·       On June 30, Senate Republicans blocked consideration of a six month unemployment bill.  The vote was 58-38, with Sens. Snowe and Collins siding with Senate Democrats.

And Why?

·       Rep.  John Linder:  “And even when businesses are willing to hire, nearly two years of unemployment benefits are too much of an allure for some,” said Linder. “The evidence is mounting that so-called stimulus policies rammed through Congress are doing more harm than good.”  [Huffington Post, 6/10/10]

·       Senator John Kyl, the Republican Whip: “[C]ontinuing to pay people unemployment compensation is a disincentive for them to seek new work.”  [Huffington Post, 3-1-10]

·       Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay argued that extending unemployment benefits “keeps people from going and finding jobs…there’s some studies that have been done that shows that people stay on unemployment compensation and they don’t look for a job until two or three weeks before they know the benefits are going to run out.” [CNN, 3/8/10]