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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sen. John Barrasso (R) Blocks 2nd Unemployment Vote; House Dems Pass Middle Class Tax Cuts

Senator John Barrasso photo portrait.Image via Wikipedia
Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) does
no seem to understand which
unemployment extension
bill, he filibustered this afternoon 
Another Republican Senator decided to block extended unemployment benefits, for those under 99 weeks. 

In the Senate on Thursday, December 2nd Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) stood up this afternoon in a filibuster and blocked a request to reauthorize extended unemployment benefits. 

Instead, Barrasso in blocking the vote, stated that a better way to help the unemployed would be to improve the economy, by giving "certainty" to businesses on taxes.

In addition, Senator Barrasso seemed to be confused on which legislation, in the Senate, he was voting upon. The bill which was presented for a second vote in the Senate this afternoon was S.3981-“The Unemployment Insurance Stabilization Act of 2010, provided a one year extension to claimants less than 99 weeks of the supplemental income benefit.

An initial vote in the chamber on November 30th, on the bill was blocked by a stand-alone filibuster by Senator Scott Brown (R-MA), because he was upset with the timing of the measure reaching the floor and the lack of “discussion” on the legislation.

"This is about people who have been collecting unemployment benefits for 99 weeks," said Barrasso, describing the bill after his stand alone filibuster to Huffington Post.

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) quickly corrected Senator Barrasso, on the chamber floor, on which he could have casted an up or down vote on this afternoon.

I just want you to understand that this extension is not for anything beyond 99 weeks," she said. "We do not have any extension beyond 99 weeks. I just wanted my friend to know that."

But Boxer in her correction, was only partially correct. Legislation that directly impact  the 99ers, S. 3706-“The Americans Want to Work Act”, sponsored by Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), sits in the Senate Finance Committee after another stand-alone filibuster by lame-duck Senator George Lemieux (R-FL) on September 28th. 

Senator Stabenow continue to stand with her support for unemployment benefits for the 99ers (claimants who have exhausted between 73-99 weeks for supplemental income payments) and to correct Barrasso on the meaning behind S.3981, on the Senate floor this afternoon.

"I personally believe as long as the economy is as sluggish, as slow, as challenged as it is, that we ought to extend benefits beyond 99 weeks," she stated.

"But the bill that's in front of us is not that. It is the bill that Sen. Boxer talked about, which is the basic program. The program that basically says if you lose your job today, you have the same opportunity to receive some temporary help as the person who lost their job on Monday or Tuesday," Stabenow replied.

Meanwhile, in the U.S. House this afternoon, Democrats lead by Outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) managed to successful challenge to the Republicans bluff, by passing an reauthorization of the Bush Era 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, for those earning under $250,000 a year. The vote which passed 234-188 was largely along party lines.

The tax cut bill is now on its’ way to the Senate, where all 42 Republicans Senators, signed a pledge on December 1st, stating that they will block any bill that did not include tax cuts for wealthy tax payers making over $250,000 a year or did not address a Federal budget for the 2011 fiscal year.

Incoming Speaker John Boehner of (R-OH), immediately drew criticism of the measure, after the vote.

"I am trying to catch my breath so I don't to refer to this ... as uh, chicken crap, all right?" he said.

Democrats in the Senate are growing extremely concerned that President Barack Obama will be willing to compromise with the Republicans demand on giving the tax cuts to all tax payers including the very wealthy, even if extended unemployment compensation for up to 2 Million job seekers are eliminated.

 "I would hope the president would stand firm on what he campaigned on in Iowa," said Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) to the Huffington Post Wire. "The Republicans painted themselves into a corner. I hope we don't let them out."

What are your thoughts on this article? Do you believe that Senator John Barrasso is truly confused on which unemployment bill he blocked on December 2nd or is just trying to spin the real issue? Are you encouraged that the House Democrats continue to stand up for the middle/lower classes and America's job seekers with their votes and legislation. Feel free to comment on this story, below!
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