The bill to extend and restore unemployment benefits to out of work Americans now only has to make its way to the White House after Congress passed the legislation by a vote of 272 to 152.
The bill, which finally overcame a Republican filibuster on Wednesday, will restore benefits to around 3 million people who were cut off from the program during the protracted debate on the bill.
Republicans defended themselves against charges they were holding back the bill because they think the unemployed citizens didn’t deserve benefits. Explains Congressman Jeb Hensarling of Texas:
I haven’t heard anybody say we shouldn’t be extending unemployment benefits. The difference is one side wants to borrow 34 cents on the dollar, mainly from the Chinese, and send the bill to our children and our grandchildren
Whereas Democrat Jim McDermott of Washington state said the filibuster was intended to smear the White House:
They’ll say it’s because of the deficit. But in reality, they’re simply trying to make this president fail at any cost… The Republican leadership in Congress has decided that the way to get the White House back is by denying unemployment benefits to people who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own and show them that this government doesn’t work.
Once President Obama signs the bill, it’s up to the individual states to begin disbursing the checks to those who qualify. According to the Washington Post, this could be a quick process in some states, while others might require a few weeks to get up to speed.
U.S. House votes to restore jobless aid for millions [Washington Post]