What: All Issues : Aid to Less Advantaged People, at Home & Abroad : Victims of Natural Disasters : HR 4851. (Extending expired programs, including those for the unemployed) Motion to bring debate to a close on a measure that would extend expired programs, including those that benefit the unemployed/On passing the bill
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HR 4851. (Extending expired programs, including those for the unemployed) Motion to bring debate to a close on a measure that would extend expired programs, including those that benefit the unemployed/On passing the bill
senate Roll Call 117     Apr 15, 2010
Y = Conservative
N = Progressive
Winning Side:
Progressive

This vote was on bringing debate to a close on a bill that would extend for two months certain expired programs, including unemployment insurance benefits. In addition the bill would extend COBRA health insurance subsidies, higher Medicare reimbursements for physicians, national flood insurance and other items. Because of Congressional inaction these benefits had already lapsed for several days and Democrats were eager to push through an extension.  

Republicans spent much of the debate on this bill arguing that while the programs the bill would extend are good and necessary, the bill does not pay for them and raises the deficit as a result.  Tom Coburn, R-Okla., made several unsuccessful attempts to pay for the costs of the bill by taking back federal money that had been allocated but never actually spent in several categories. Democrats responded by suggesting that while it’s preferable not to raise the deficit, unemployed Americans need these programs immediately.

Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said extending the benefits is humane and also “good economic judgment.”

“The money given to people out of work is money that is spent immediately for the necessities of life. It is not saved or invested. They go out and spend it on what they need, whether it is on utility bills or rent or food or clothing—whatever it might be. So it is money that is injected straight into the economy,” Durbin said.  “When Republicans come to the floor, they say: Wait a minute. At some point, with our national debt, we have to pay for this. I say to them: How would you pay for it? They say: We pay for it by cutting spending on projects that create jobs. Wait a minute. If you cut spending on projects that create jobs, there are more people unemployed. More people unemployed need more benefits. We cannot end the recession until we focus on getting people back to work.”

By a vote of 59-38, the Senate passed the bill.  Every Democrat present voted for the bill.  All but three Republicans present voted against the bill.  The end result is that the Senate passed a bill that would extend for two months expired programs, including federal unemployment benefits and COBRA health care premium assistance to unemployed people.

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