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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Congress is Unlikely To Act On Unemployment, Before November 30th, Expiration Date

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Congress is unlikely to act on
Unemployment Extensions before
the November 30th cut off date
It is unlikely that Congress will address unemployment extension benefits before the November 30th expiration date, according to an article posted on the Wall Street Journal, on November 16th

The Federal Unemployment Extension program, signed by President Obama on July 22, HR-4213 “The Unemployment Compensation Act of 2010, provides between 73-99 weeks of supplemental jobless payments. Congress delayed the last extension, signed by President Obama in July, by four weeks as they battled Republican concerns about adding to the deficit.

Democrats, in the House and Senate, are under pressure from their constituents to extend the benefit program, before the holiday season. Republicans, who take over in the House in January 2011 and gain six seats in the Senate, are unlikely to approve further extensions without other budget cuts.

One option that Democrats are concerning to reinstate the program is to scale back the number of benefits weeks, to rein in costs. Within this proposal, unemployment extensions would apply for one year but, reduce eligible weeks, if the economy improves.

Following the Tea-Party backed position to cut Government spending, the Republicans stance is that any future extensions would have to be offset by cuts, in the budget.

An aide to Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) told the Wall Street Journal, that one option would be to use unspent money from the economic stimulus bill.

Congress is also engaging in debate over extending the Bush Era Tax cuts, during to lame duck period, with expires on December 31st

The upcoming Congressional schedule sets a tight timeframe to work on both measures, as another recess period taken during Thanksgiving Week, returning on November 29th.  Next, lawmakers have fifteen additional work days before they leave Washington, D.C. again, for the Christmas Holiday period.

For the unemployed and underemployed, the jobless benefits system would slowly phase out, if the program is not extended by the end of the year. Jobless workers, in most states, would still receive a maximum of 26 weeks of benefits through their regular state programs.

The Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) Program, currently 100 percent federally funded, allows between 13 to 20 weeks of benefits to workers in high unemployment states. Up to 800,000 workers in this program would be quickly cut off.

Another 1.2 million jobless Americans would stop receiving benefits on December 31st. If these unemployed job seekers have exhausted the initial 26 weeks of state supplemental jobless payments, they will unable to access the federal program.

Reducing the number of benefit claimant weeks is to save costs, says James Sherk, senior policy analyst in labor economics at the conservative Heritage Foundation. He told the Wall Street Journal, that capping benefit recipients at 60 weeks would be a better alternative than cutting extended benefits altogether, said.

"Certainly you don't want to be doing anything cold turkey," he said, but "if Congress is going to pass another extension they should at least budget for this," Sherk stated.

What are your thoughts on this article? Do you believe Congress will extend benefits to unemployed job seekers under 99 weeks, before the end of this year? If you are unemployed currently, how do you feel about a possible benefits weeks reduction to offset the deficit? Feel free to comment on this story!
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