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Monday, December 20, 2010

HR-6556 for the 99ers- OP/ED- High time has come for a sincere dose of reality

The western front of the United States Capitol...Image via Wikipedia
Congressional timetables make an
actual passage of HR-6556, doubtful
in possibility
Reach Out Job Search News Blog OP/ED
Clocks are ticking down on the 2010 111th Congress chances on passage a bill to extend unemployment benefits jobless 99ers, exhausted from all forms of supplemental income payment assistance program.

Also, time as came upon us at the 'Reach Out Job Search" News Blog, for a true and honest examination of realities the measure introduced by Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) on December 17th, HR-6556-'To provide for the further temporary extension of the emergency unemployment compensation program and for other purposes'. 

Specifically, it is high time to outline Lee's proposal chances of passage in the thirteen days before the Republicans take over the 112th Congress on January 3, 2011.

On Friday, December 10th, members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) including HR-6556 Co-Sponsors Rep. Lee and Bobby Scott (D-VA), called a press conference aired on C-SPAN. Lee and Scott stated their opposition to President Barback Obama 'compromise deal' with Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

Reasons both Congressional Representatives outlined in disagreement with the measure, at the time, were the following:
  • The CBC supported a 13 month extension of Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) benefits but, also the extension of those benefits to the '99ers', who have been EXHAUSTED any form of supplemental income benefits since April 2010. 
  • The CBC disagreed with the elimination of revenue into  Social Security Program-SSP. The Obama Tax Deal change the  Social Security tax rate in 2011 and 2012 from 6 percent to 4 percent; hereby taking revenue away from the SSP). .
Seven days later in the early morning hours of December 17th, HR-4853-'The Middle Class Tax Relief/Unemployment Extension Act of 2010, passed in the House by a overwhelming 277-148 margin

Six days before the bill passed in the House, no proposals were introduced by the CBC, by Senators or anywhere else in Congress including 99ers in the measure signed by President Obama later in the evening on December 17th.

Little known to any 99ers advocacy groups, including U3 Cubed, American99ersUnion or a number of writers supporting the cause of the longest-term unemployed job seekers exhausted from all forms of benefits; Representatives Lee and Scott -somewhere last Friday evening- drafted proposal HR-6556. 

Why did the Congressional Representatives wait seven days to introduce a measure both clearly disagreed with in a nationally-viewed press conference about on December 10th, are currently unanswered.

News first broke regarding HR-6556 existence on Sunday, December 19th; first reported on the news blog Crew of 42. The original proposal was drafted on Friday, December 17th. Why didn't Representatives Lee and/or Scott hold another C-Span Press Conference announcing their legislation which impacts an estimated 6 Million unemployed job seekers waiting on any form of a 'Christmas Miracle' in the 11th Hour, is another unanswered question.

If it was late to call another Press Conference on C-Span, we are sure the Representatives, could have requested to appear on evening based national cable news casts like Countdown with Keith Olbermann, the Rachel Maddow Show and/or Last Word with Lawrence O' Donnell. 

With President Obama signing HR-6556 into law on the same day, it seem one of these MSNBC anchor show hosts could have been interested in the story on Friday night.

Instead, what occurred was HR-6556 falling into internet chatter Sunday night, starting around 6:00 PM EST. Reviewing remaining 13 days in the timetable of passage, prior to the end of the 111th Congress in the House, Senate and to gain a possible signature into law by President Obama; another question arises if Representatives Lee and Scott introduced the bill late with too little time for actual debate or presentation to the Congressional bodies and a up or down vote.

Highly respected writer on legislation and other matters impacting the 99ers, Michael Colliss of, outlined the reality of the small timetable for passage on a column December 20th
"Now it is possible that this process can be “short cut” and the bill can be introduced and proceed to a vote under a process called “suspension of regular order”, Colliss wrote. (This is also called “fast tracking” a bill) To do this 2/3rds of the entire House membership (or 287 Members) must vote to suspend regular order. Also, Speaker Pelosi would have to agree to this vote as well.
"There have been several occasions when Democratic Leaders attempted to fast track unemployment extension legislation under suspension of regular order in the past year", Colliss cited. Every single time they attempted to do this, it failed. There is absolutely no reason to believe that the 40 or so Republican members of the House would join with the Democrats to fast track this measure".
For the measure to 'fast track' though the House, it would require at a minimum of 40 Republican House members to agree with all Democrats -including conversative 'blue dog Democrats- in the body. Also HR-6556 required 287 'Yay' votes (or a 2/3rd vote of the 435 Representatives) for the measure to skip the Senate and go directly on President Obama's desk.

If the 'fast track' method obtained necessary votes, the bill would move into the Senate for debate. Recent history must note that is the same body were November 30thMinority Leader Mitch McConnell announced his famous letter

Senate Republicans sided with Senator McConnell, in the letter, that HR-4853 would not gain any Conservative or Moderate GOP votes until after the Bush Era Tax Cuts of 2001 and 2003 were extended to all Americans, including the very wealthy increased Estate Tax deduction.

Two Senators Scott Brown (R-MA) and John Barrasso (R-WY) blocked a stand-alone bill to extend unemployment legislation to America's job seekers under 99 weeks in S.3891 'The Unemployment Insurance Stabilization Act of 2010, on November 30th and December 1st, respectfully.

To pin hopes that Minority Leader McConnell will ask his Republican Caucus of 41 Senators to vote for a measure assisting jobless 99ers without another 'deal' or not paid for out of other areas of the Federal fiscal budget is questionable at best. 

One can assume that a new McConnell 'deal' will come with cuts to necessary social programs Republicans oppose assisting unemployed job seekers like Food Stamps, Medicaid or Utilities Payments Assistance.

Next, we have the issue of timetables. House Representatives are scheduled to go on their annual Christmas Recess period by Wednesday, December 22nd at the latest. Speaker of the House for another 13 days-Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) could order the House to stay in session until the end of the 111th Democratically Controlled House on January 2, 2011.

It is unlikely that Speaker Pelosi enact this option unless HR-6556 has a surely of passage in her body. Outlining the steep uphill climb the measure would have to gain the necessary votes in the House, the lateness of the legislation being introduced and the fact this bill sits within the Ways and Means Committee this evening; is is highly doubtful the Speaker will hold House Representatives over early into the New Year.

As for the HR-6556 chances in the 112th Congress starting January 3, 2011, the legislation would require a re-introduction into the Republican Controlled Ways and Means Committee. 

All bills not enacted upon by the end of a Congressional session are dropped in the legislative track of passage, unless a re-introduction process for the measure is performed.

Time will tell if this action is taken on by either Representatives Barbara Lee or Bobby Scott.

What are your thoughts on this article? Do you believe that HR-6556 will be introduced in the 112th Congress, if not passed within the next 13 days? Why or why not? Feel free to comment on this story, below!
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