Senate Democrats

Senate Substitute (S.A. 2668) to H.R. 3548, the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2009

Summary and Background

In response to the worst economic and financial crises in generations, in February 2009, Senate and House Democrats sent the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (P.L. 111-5) to President Obama to be signed into law.  This landmark legislation included an increase of $25 billion in unemployment insurance payments and an extension of the term of coverage of unemployment insurance to ease the burdens of the suffering Americans hit hardest by the recession. 

Under current law, this emergency compensation, which began in July 2008 (P.L. 110-252), provides up to 20 weeks of unemployment benefits to certain workers who have exhausted their regular unemployment compensation benefits, with 13 additional weeks of coverage for workers in states with the highest unemployment rates.  The Recovery Act extended the program through December 26, 2009.

Eight months later, while economists agree that the nation is probably emerging from the recession, most also believe that new job creation usually lags behind increases in economic growth.  Meanwhile, nearly two million out-of work Americans are now face expiring unemployment benefits by the end of the year. 

Senate Majority Leader Reid, Senate Committee on Finance Chairman Baucus, and Senators Reed and Shaheen introduced a comprehensive proposal to extend unemployment insurance by up to 14 additional weeks for jobless workers across the nation.  This fully paid-for legislation would also extend benefits for six additional weeks in states with the highest unemployment levels. 

This legislation will be considered on the Senate floor as a substitute amendment (S.A. 2668) to similar legislation that was approved by the House (H.R.3548). 

Major Provisions

Emergency Unemployment Compensation

S.A. 2668 would:

  • Extend unemployment insurance by up to 14 additional weeks for jobless workers; and
  • Extend benefits for six additional weeks for workers in states with unemployment levels over 8.5 percent.

Additional Policies

S.A. 2668 would:

  • Ensure that the additional $25 per week in unemployment insurance benefits provided by the Recovery Act do not count against a family’s eligibility for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps;
  • Update the Unemployment Insurance Modernization provisions in the Recovery Act to provide that victims of sexual assault who have left their jobs have a “compelling family reason” for benefits; and
  • Specify that railroad workers who face expiring unemployment benefits will be eligible for the extension of benefits.

Offset

S.A. 2668, which is estimated to cost $2.4 billion, is fully offset by an extension of the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) until June 30, 2011.

Legislative History

On September 10, 2009, Rep. McDermott introduced H.R.3548, the Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2009 in the House.  On September 22, the House passed H.R. 3548 by a vote of 331-83 (Roll no. 722). 

On October 8, 2009, the bill was placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar and Senators Reid, Baucus, Reed, and Hagan have submitted S.A. 2668, a substitute amendment to H.R.3548.  That day, Senate Minority Leader McConnell objected to a request that the legislation be approved by unanimous consent.

On October 21, Majority Leader Reid filed cloture on the motion to proceed to H.R.3548.  As of this writing, the Senate is expected to vote on this motion on Tuesday, October 27.

Amendments

The DPC will distribute information to our staff listservs on amendments as it becomes available.

Administration Position

As of this writing, the Administration has not issued a Statement of Administrative Policy with respect to either H.R.3548 or S.A. 2668.  The Administration has, however, indicated its strong support for the expansion of the UI benefits provided for in the Recovery Act.

Resources

Congressional Budget Office, Preliminary Estimate: Substitute Amendment to H.R. 3548 (October 8, 2009), available here.

Congressional Research Service, Temporary Extension of Unemployment Benefits: Emergency Unemployment Compensation, available here.

Congressional Research Service, Unemployment Insurance: Available Unemployment Benefits and Legislative Activity, available here.

Democratic Policy Committee, Legislative Bulletin:  H.R.1: the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, as amended (Modernization of Unemployment Compensation), available here.

Senate Committee on Finance, "Unemployment Insurance Benefits: Where Do We Go From Here?," Hearing Statements and Testimony, available here.

Estimated Number of Federal Extension Exhaustions, by State

Through September and December 2009

National Employment Law Project, August 2009

State

Total Exhaustions through September 2009

Total Exhaustions through December 2009

Alabama

0

37,794

Alaska

2,252

3,700

Arizona

5,142

22,632

Arkansas

5,076

8,273

California

68,713

154,328

Colorado

0

13,853

Connecticut

4,922

11,739

Delaware

0

3,518

District of Columbia

945

3,703

Florida

27,359

114,508

Georgia

13,844

58,887

Hawaii

2,774

5,456

Idaho

3,055

9,395

Illinois

20,266

50,028

Indiana

9,848

50,343

Iowa

19,845

30,914

Kansas

0

3,819

Kentucky

3,814

14,025

Louisiana

0

8,773

Maine

0

4,838

Maryland

15,650

25,681

Massachusetts

0

39,530

Michigan

25,534

62,753

Minnesota

6,776

13,754

Mississippi

12,895

19,109

Missouri

4,091

20,556

Montana

2,814

5,688

Nebraska

9,308

13,849

Nevada

5,041

14,135

New Hampshire

0

1,478

New Jersey

22,355

41,576

New Mexico

0

1,577

New York

0

89,662

North Carolina

15,033

32,171

North Dakota

3,187

4,195

Ohio

11,642

64,545

Oklahoma

0

5,943

Oregon

4,981

11,235

Pennsylvania

19,960

60,910

Puerto Rico

1,537

6,437

Rhode Island

2,489

4,483

South Carolina

13,775

21,852

South Dakota

954

1,543

Tennessee

8,299

32,788

Texas

0

48,596

Utah

10,731

18,226

Vermont

1,172

1,860

Virgin Islands

1,052

1,350

Virginia

0

12,877

Washington

4,628

10,455

West Virginia

0

3,756

Wisconsin

8,834

24,180

Wyoming

2,158

3,900

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