Just a quick update of the latest Senate action. Late last night the Senate Finance Committee may have come to an agreement regarding H.R. 4213 hat tip msanonymous222):
Baucus, Grassley reach agreement on doc fix
The top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Finance Committee reached agreement this evening on a six-month Medicare “doc fix” that could open the way for the tax extenders bill to pass as early as Friday, a source tells The Hill. Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) hope to pass the tax extenders bill by unanimous consent.
Could the pressure put on Congress to pass legislation finally get them to move in a positive direction? I hope so. It will be interesting to see what the final version of the legislation looks like, since there seem to be frequent changes. The legislation then goes to the House for review and hopefully quick passage next week.
The unemployment news today is sure to be fast and furious, so I’ll update this as the news arrives. The Senate opens for business today at 9:45, so expect news to develop shortly after that time.
How is the Senate delay affecting the unemployed?
Jobless still need help; Senate must act to extend benefits
Any way you slice it, the Senate’s failure Wednesday to extend federal unemployment benefits leaves a lot of New Jersey’s jobless residents out of luck and money.
More than 230,000 New Jerseyans will stop receiving benefit checks unless a compromise is reached quickly on a bill to extend payments to the long-term unemployed…..
As the article continues:
Granted, the growing federal deficit is a long-range concern that must be addressed, but joblessness is an immediate problem. Without the extension, many families in New Jersey and across the country will find themselves unable to afford their homes and even basic necessities. Their lost income helps drag down the economy, which clearly still needs — dare we say it? — stimulus.
The latest unemployment numbers are a painful reminder of the need for extended benefits. There are 15 million Americans unemployed — 460,000 in New Jersey — and the number out of work for more than six months reached a record 6.8 million in May.
With unemployment still high and jobs difficult to find, it’s important that unemployment benefits be extended as quickly as possible.
More on the Senate’s actions later this morning.
12;50 Eastern: I placed a call to the Senate Finance Committee this morning and I’m waiting for thier reply to my questions. From the looks of C-SPAN the Senate is not going to be passing any significant legislation today. I’ll keep updating this post as the news arrives.
1:10 Eastern: This is the latest from The Hill:
The proposal under discussion would provide a six month doc fix extension, fully paid for through pension provisions included in the Thune substitute amendment Republicans voted for yesterday, and language clarifying the three-day payment window (a pay-for included in the Baucus substitute). To be clear, the proposal would ONLY address the SGR – it does NOT include unemployment compensation, Medicaid FMAP funding, COBRA insurance subsidies, or any of the other Medicare/health provisions (e.g. Section 508 hospital extension, etc.) included in the Baucus substitute.
And according to a Senate Finance Committee aid that I contacted this morning, “the Senators are working now to determine next steps.”
I’m waiting to hear what those next steps are, but it could be if various sections of the legislation is being separated into “agree” and “disagree” sections, let’s hope that unemployment legislation is in the “agree’ section, so it can be passed as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, the chances of any unemployment legislation being passed today are remote even if it gets out of the Senate, since the House is not in session today and won’t be voting on legislation.
Update 3:00 Eastern: The positive news that seemed to be coming from the Senate this morning was positive, but not for the unemployed. It was positive for doctors who will not have to absorb a cut in Medicare payments: Senate Passes Medicare Doctor-Payment Extension
“This is good news,” said Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus , D-Mont. “Let’s savor something.”
The $6.5 billion bill would prevent a 21 percent cut to doctors who receive reimbursements from Medicare and increase their payouts by 2.2 percent. A previous short-term extension expired June 1, and the Obama administration has prevented the cut from taking effect until now.
The measure is fully paid-for under congressional budget rules. It still must still pass the House, which is not scheduled to return until the evening of June 22. House Democratic leadership aides said lawmakers would study the bill and its budgetary offsets before deciding how to proceed.
The bill is being cut into pieces and parts are being passed, but this is not a quick way to get relief to the unemployed. This process is maddeningly slow for the unemployed, since they are the ones that need help quickly. The doctors probably could have afforded to wait a few more weeks without worrying about going broke, but many unemployed have that worry. Unfortunately any unemployment extension legislation will not be coming this week and since the house won’t be in session until the evening of June 22, it may not pass next week.
Watch the Ed Schultz Show tonight:
I received work today that Ed Schultz will be doing a “big commentary” tonight regarding unemployment. Ed is a very passionate guy and when he gets his attention wrapped around an issue he’s a force to be reckoned with. Do your best to watch tonight’s show to see how what Ed has on his mind. I’m sure Congress will be paying attention.
Yesterday i wrote about how Senator Hatch wants to drug test those that collect unemployed: Extended unemployment: Republican demands stall H.R. 4213, Sen. Hatch: drug test the unemployed. Ed jumped on that as well and here’s the clip: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/37742423#37742360
With Ed on the side of the unemployed, there’s a chance that Congress starts getting the word from the media that it’s time to change tactics. This is not the time to start ignoring and denigrating the unemployed. This is the time to pass comprehensive unemployment and job creation legislation. You can tell Ed how much you appreciate his involvement on behalf of the unemployed by going to http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30031533/ and sending him an email.
I have often complained that many in Congress have suddenly decided that deficit control is the most important item in the budget. I have mentioned billion dollar unfunded wars, tax cuts for the wealthy and Wall Street bailouts, but when it comes to the unemployed, that’s where deficit spending needs to stop. Sherrod Brown seems to think the same way. Senator Brown is one of the Senate’s good guys and someone that knows that the unemployed have suffered. Here’s a link to his recent Senate floor remarks about how the Republicans have stymied unemployment legislation. He ends his remarks with the following, “It’s a moral question, Mr. President, and the United States Senate failed this moral question.” it’s worth your time to view: Sen. Brown on Unemployment Insurance and Republican Hypocrisy
Here’s the daily list:
Congress.org has a great media contact list:http://www.congress.org/congressorg/dbq/media/
Another media contact list is located at:http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_oet&address=358×1903
Keeping the Tier 5 and extended unemployment issues alive is going to be up to you, so be sure to contact your congressional representatives as often as you can. You need to continue to pressure Congress to act responsibly and to extend benefits for those unable to find work. Send your representative a fax using FaxZero.com. As has been mentioned in the comments section, you can send up to two free faxes a day.
Here’s a great site where you can find both state and federal contact information: http://conservativeusa.org/mega-cong.htm
Please send your comments and questions to [email protected]
I’ll post updates as they are made available. You can also view my updates and new posts at Twitter: http://twitter.com/layofflist
You can also follow numerous unemployment issues on Facebook. My profile is located at Rochester Unemployment-Examiner (dash between Unemployment and Examiner). There are some great groups that support the long term unemployed, so check it out.