The Huffington Post headline reads: “Unemployment: Congress Has Never Before Dropped Extended Benefits With Jobless Rate So High“.
Though the jobs crisis shows few signs of abating and the unemployment rate continues to hover near 10 percent, Congress allowed extended unemployment benefits to expire at the beginning of June, causing so far more than 1.2 million long-term unemployed to miss checks.
During normal times, state provide 26 weeks of unemployment benefits for workers laid off through no fault of their own. Federally-funded extended benefits have given the unemployed additional weeks during eight recessions since the 1950s. If Congress fails to reauthorize the current round of extra jobless aid, it will be the first time since then that extended benefits have been allowed to expire when the national unemployment rate is above 7.2 percent.
Yesterday, with the support of Republican senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, Democrats were able to muster 59 votes to defeat the Republican filibuster. So it looks like the bill that the rest of The Party of Over-My-Dead-Body shot down yesterday — with the able assistance of Ben “Democrat, ha ha!” Nelson — will finally pass after the Senate reconvenes on July 12 and Sen. Byrd’s replacement is sworn in. But by then a hell of a lot of Americans who are really hurting will have had their unemployment checks cut off:
House leaders were planning to take up the jobless bill Thursday and said they expect it to pass. But its failure in the Senate ensures that more than 2 million people will have their checks cut off before Congress returns to Washington after a week-long break. The Labor Department estimates that more than 1.2 million people already have been affected.
The Republican Party counts this as a major triumph, one that will pay huge dividends at the ballot box.
Wouldn’t it be both poetic justice and truly hilarious if the expected gains for Republicans in November don’t actually materialize? (I am saying that with my Swami Sarabeth hat on, by the way. I am deeply convinced that even if the Republicans make gains in the House and the Senate, the gains will be much much less than what has been predicted so far.)