House to Try Second Time to Pass Unemployment-Aid Measure
The U.S. House plans to try again today to approve legislation extending unemployment benefits after a measure to do so was blocked yesterday because of its cost.
The vote on the $33 billion measure was 261 in favor and 155 against, with a two-thirds majority needed for passage under the expedited procedure used by Democratic leaders to limit debate.
House Republican leaders urged opposition to the bill because it lacked provisions to pay for its cost. Voting no were 139 Republicans and 16 Democrats; supporting the measure were 231 Democrats and 30 Republicans.
The bill would continue jobless aid through November, with benefits provided retroactively to the more than 1 million Americans whose weekly checks have been stopped during recent congressional dickering over a larger bill that included restoration of the aid.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Sander Levin, a Michigan Democrat, said the chamber would take up the separate unemployment-assistance measure today under regular rules requiring a simple majority for approval. “It will pass,” Levin told reporters after yesterday’s vote.
Representative Dave Camp, the top Republican on the Ways and Means panel, was among those objecting to the bill’s price tag. “It isn’t right to simply add the cost of this spending to our already overdrawn national credit card,” he said.
The measure was broken out of the more sweeping tax-and- spending measure blocked last week by Senate Republicans, who said it would have added too much to the deficit. Since then, Senator Olympia Snowe, a Maine Republican, has called for passing a standalone jobless measure.
Under the House bill, the unemployed would see their checks shrink by $25, to an average $310, after lawmakers opted not to extend provisions in last year’s economic stimulus package providing a bonus payment. The bill wouldn’t extend aid to the growing number of Americans who have exhausted all of their allowable assistance. It would only revive expired provisions offering up to 99 weeks of aid.
The bill is H.R. 5618.