Senate To Pass Unemployment Benefits Extension

The Senate essentially voted to pass an extension of unemployment benefits yesterday, invoking cloture on the measure with the requisite sixty votes. The bill would extend unemployment benefits through the end of November, ensuring that we won't need to witness constant bickering over the extension as we did this past spring. The $34 billion price tag had previously held up its passage, as lawmakers refused to offset the cost (we have been calling for them to do so). The bill itself is the final version of what was originally a nearly $200 billion dollar bill, but as passage grew tougher, the bill was whittled down. COBRA subsidies, tax extenders, and aid to states for Medicaid were all dropped from the bill and the doc fix was passed separately. It's telling that the Senate chose to jettison other priorities rather than simply pay for them.

Once the bill passes the Senate, it will go back to the House, where it will likely be approved quickly and then sent up to the White House for signing. We will post this new bill on as soon as it is officially passed. The current average weekly unemployment benefit is about $307 and the maximum number of weeks for collecting unemployment benefits is 99.

In other stimulus news, the small business bill--one that combines a $30 billion small business lending fund to community banks and targeted small business tax breaks--is being held up over Republican concerns that the lending fund would be another TARP. Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) said that dropping the fund altogether was a possibility. This bill--having already passed in the House--is actually deficit neutral over ten years, offsetting its costs by closing some tax loopholes. 

Unemployment Insurance Extensions
Gross Cost Deficit Impact
2009 Stimulus $60 billion $60 billion
November 2009 Extension $2 billion $0 billion
December 2009 Extension $11 billion $11 billion
March 2010 Extension $8 billion $8 billion
April 2010 Extension $14 billion $14 billion
Total $95 billion $93 billion

Remember you can follow all of the unemployment benefit extensions since the 2009 stimulus on So far there have been four unemployment benefit extensions (this one will make five) since ARRA, at a gross cost of $35.6 billion and a net cost of $33 billion, since one of the extensions was offset. You can also track all other government actions undertaken in the last three years to support the economy at