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Despite Vote in House, Unemployment Insurance Extension Likely By Week’s End

The AP headline tells you that the House of Representatives rejected an extension of unemployment benefits. But the last paragraph tells you why:

Democrats brought up the bill under a special procedure in which no amendments were allowed and debate was limited. Under the procedure, the bill needed a two-thirds majority to pass.

In actuality, the House got 261 votes for the measure, including the support of 30 Republicans. 16 Democrats voted no, and they ought to be named, so here goes:

Adler, Baird, Bean, Berry, Bright, Childers, Cooper, Donnelly, Herseth Sandlin, Hill, Kratovil, Markey, Marshall, Minnick, Nye, Shuler

Hey, thanks Jim Cooper!

What this means is that the House tried to bypass the Rules Committee, suspend the rules and pass the bill. They can write up a rule tomorrow and pass it under regular order, requiring only a majority vote. And that’s what they’ll do.

The better news is that the Senate looks ready to pass a standalone unemployment insurance bill of their own. With the tax extenders bill off the table for now, a standalone UI bill would be the only option available to help out millions of jobless up against their benefit limits, and Olympia Snowe has signaled a willingness to pass it. It’s unclear how long the extension would last, but my guess would be for six months. That was the length of the House’s version, which would last until November 30 and offer retroactive benefits to those whose benefits have expired. The bill did not include offsets.

Harry Reid is working on this bill, and once the House passes it tomorrow, my guess is the Senate would get to it before leaving for the July 4 recess. We’ll see how that goes.

Getting extended benefits to folks is a decent stimulus, but there are still numerous other steps that ought to be taken to deal with the nagging jobs crisis, and Republicans seem fit to sit on their hands.

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David Dayen

David Dayen

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