The bill that will restore and extend unemployment benefits to millions of out of work Americans just got one step closer to reality this afternoon, with the Senate voting 60-40 to end the stalemate that had logjammed the legislation from being voted on.
The 60-40 vote was just what the bill needed overcome an opposition filibuster that could have tied up the bill interminably. Now the Senate can vote on passing the actual bill and move it onto the the House of Representatives, which is expected to take up the matter tomorrow.
It’s expected to pass through the House without much of a fight and end up on President Obama’s desk by Friday.
The bill will not only extend benefits for those who have been unemployed for more than six months, it will restore the benefits to more than 2 million people whose benefits lapsed during the battle over how this bill should be funded.
While Republicans say they were in favor of extending benefits — something that Presidents from both sides of the aisle have done in times of need — their biggest concern was where the extra money would come from.
Here’s Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell from before today’s vote:
We’ve repeatedly voted for similar bills in the past. And we are ready to support one now… What we do not support — and we make no apologies for — is borrowing tens of billions of dollars to pass this bill at a time when the national debt is spinning completely out of control.
To this sentiment, Pres. Obama has this to say:
The same people who didn’t have any problem spending hundreds of billions of dollars on tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans are now saying we shouldn’t offer relief to middle-class Americans.
Whichever side you fall on, this is nothing but good news for those still looking for work. The average weekly payout for the extended benefits is around $309.
Says Pennsylvania’s Sec. of Labor and Industry:
I can’t tell you how relieved we will be when Congress passes this. We have in Pennsylvania about 200,000 people who have lost their unemployment compensation coverage because of their inaction… Folks need this money for their mortgages, for food, and so our goal is to get them their payments as quickly as possible.
Unemployment benefits extension clears hurdle [Houston Chronicle]