Senate Passes Unemployment Benefits Extension, But Fate Uncertain in House

Apr 7, 2014 7:28pm

The Senate passed a bill Monday to temporarily extend unemployment insurance for five months, but it remains unclear whether the bill will face a vote in the House of Representatives.

The Senate voted 59-38 on the Protecting Volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Responders Act, which served as the vehicle for the unemployment benefits extension.

House Speaker John Boehner has indicated that he would only consider extending unemployment insurance if it included provisions to create more jobs.

“As the speaker said months ago, we are willing to look at extending emergency unemployment insurance as long as it includes provisions to help create more private-sector jobs – but, last week, Senate Democratic Leaders ruled out adding any jobs measures at all. The American people are still asking, ‘where are the jobs?’ and House Republicans are focused on our jobs agenda for families and small businesses,” Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner said Monday.

The Senate’s measure would reauthorize unemployment benefits for five months, starting with retroactive payments dating back to Dec. 28, when the previous bill expired.

The proposal is paid for with a combination of offsets, including extending “pensions smoothing” provisions included in the 2012 highway bill, and by extending customs users fees through 2024.    The bill also includes an offset which would allow single-employer pensions plans to prepay flat rate premiums. Additionally, the bill would end unemployment insurance payments to those who made $1 million or more in the previous year.

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