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Next Please: Senate Passes Jobless Benefits Bill

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By Tanya Roth, Esq. on April 16, 2010 10:43 AM

On April 15, the Senate passed the next in a line of stopgap bills designed to extend unemployment benefits to some of the millions of Americans still out of work. The 59-38 vote allowed the bill, which would also keep Medicare reimbursements to doctors at the same rate, to go back to the House for final approval. The House is expected to pass the bill and send it to President Obama for signature.

According to the Associated Press, this bill provides unemployment benefits averaging $335 a week to people whose 26 weeks of state-paid benefits have run out. Like the other measures previously approved by Congress, this is a temporary extension that will provide benefits until June 2. After that, it is hoped Congress will have the time to agree on a measure to fund the program through the end of the year.

The AP reports that like the actions of Sen. Jim Bunning R-Kty., in February, who held up that benefits extension bill with concerns about deficit spending, this time the bill was nearly derailed by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who is also concerned with the deficit. However, this time four Republicans joined Democrats to defeat a filibuster, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, Scott Brown of Massachusetts and George Voinovich of Ohio.

Despite concerns over the debt, Democrats argue the jobless benefits are important not only to help people unable to find work, but they are one of the most effective ways to help jump-start the still sluggish economy.

The passage of the bill will be a relief to the hundreds of thousands of people who have been ineligible to reapply for benefits after exhausting their state paid benefits. Under the bill, they will be able to receive those checks retroactively.

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