House Passes Extensions, But Senate Will Wait Until After Recess

The House today passed a one-year extension of various tax breaks as well as expanded unemployment benefits until November on a 215-204 vote. In a separate 245-171 vote it approved a patch to the Medicare “doc fix” through 2011. However, the Senate adjourned without considering the legislation, meaning that the unemployment benefits, doc fix and COBRA subsidies will expire while Congress is in recess. Marking the second time this year Congress has left town without extending these provisions.

Once again it was disagreement over paying for the initiatives that was at the heart of the inability to act. Leaders initially tried to enact more costly, longer term extensions, but were rebuffed by lawmakers nervous about the massive costs. As it is, the bills passed by the House today will add some $54 billion to the deficit.

In a release today CRFB expressed concern about the unwillingness to explore offsets. If Congress is really serious about helping workers and promoting economic growth, it will act responsibly and find ways to finance these programs.