Okay America, The Senate Decided To Throw You A Bone!

Democrats Break filibuster On Jobless Aid

By DAVID ROGERS | 7/20/10 3:07 PM EDT

Ending weeks of stalemate, the Senate cleared the way Tuesday for Congress to extend federal jobless benefits through November’s elections for millions of long-term unemployed.

Maine Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins were the sole Republicans to join Democrats on the 60-40 roll call, the outcome of which also rested on the arrival of West Virginia’s new senator, Carte Goodwin, sworn-in minutes before to replace the late Robert Byrd.

Going forward, the $34 billion unemployment measure is expected to take some hours more still before clearing the Senate, given the continued wrangling. But with the House poised to act quickly once the bill arrives, the bill could be signed into law this week.

An estimated 4.9 million idled workers have a stake in the federal extended jobless benefits, and close to half these individuals have seen their benefits expire since the first cut off in early June. For depressed states, any disruption in the federal payments impacts the local economy as well as the individual worker; tiny Rhode Island gets as much as $32.3 million a month.

Tuesday’s win is a relief then for the majority going into November’s elections. But Democrats and the White House are left with the fact that their biggest new stimulus program this summer may be just that—unemployment benefits.

Companion efforts to spur new infrastructure investments or help cash-strapped state and local governments have fallen by the wayside given Republican resistance and infighting between Democrats –and President Barack Obama’s own top staff. Read more

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