March 9th, 2010
04:45 PM ET
5 years ago

Unemployment bill clears Senate hurdle

Washington (CNN) - A nearly $140 billion bill to extend unemployment benefits and a host of expiring tax cuts cleared a procedural hurdle Tuesday in the Senate on a vote of 66-34, setting up passage of the bill possibly later in the day.

Eight Republicans joined with all Democratic senators except for Ben Nelson of Nebraska, on the vote to end debate on the bill, which still must be merged with a companion bill in the House.

One Republican senator, Scott Brown of Massachusetts, said he voted yes to "keep the process moving" but said he might vote against the final bill.

In addition to extending unemployment payments and assistance for the unemployed to buy health insurance, the bill staves off scheduled cuts in the payments doctors receive for treating Medicare patients.

The bill extends a wide range of tax cuts that were set to expire. They include a tax cut for teachers who buy school supplies out of their own pocket; a tax cut for small businesses that pay workers called to active military duty; research and developments tax cuts; and tax cuts for restaurant and small business owners to depreciate improvements in their businesses.

Many Republicans opposed the bill because of its high price tag which was only partially off-set. Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said the bill would spend more than Democrats promise will be saved over ten years if their health care overhaul is passed.

"There's $100 billion in the bill that's on the Senate floor right now that's not paid for," McConnell said before the vote. "So whatever savings they allege will occur under their health care bill over the next 10 years is going to be gone as soon as this bill passes."

Democrats argued that the spending does not need to be offset because much of it is emergency spending to respond to the economic downturn.


Filed under: Senate • unemployment
soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. Richie in Mass

    Most of it is needed but we have to pay for things. The Democrats cry about Bush spending yet they are doing the exact same thing. The health care plan is going to crush us in debt. I know, the CBO scored it. The CBO also scored the stimulus. Now less than a year later the 787 billion price tag has risen to 862 billion. Not even a year. They haven't spent half of it yet. You think the health care bill will save money? Pass whatever bill you want. Just pay for it. The Democrats campaigned on it yet are spending more in 1 year than Bush did in his first term. Start making real cuts in the budget. Start with foriegn aid.

    March 9, 2010 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  2. Fooled Again

    Those paper money printing machines must be smoking by now. Want to have more money for unemployment? End the wars, Patriot Act, rendition, backroom deals, etc...

    March 9, 2010 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  3. BeverlyNC

    Finally – I guess the Republicans decided they had hurt working families enough and had better get back to work pretending they care before the People began revolting against them.

    Republicans are AGAINST working families and have proved it all year in their actions and do-nothing strategy. It's time for America to stand up and work AGAINST the traitorous Republican Party. They are no friend to the People. Their corporate buddies can keep buying their votes. Democrats will keep working for the People as they have being doing all year.

    March 9, 2010 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  4. LacrosseMom

    @ Richie in Mass ......... I agree with some of your comments. We should be cutting Foreign Aid..... period!

    March 9, 2010 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  5. j

    Sometimes the lesser of bad choices has to be made – keep the country afloat by spending federal money or let the country fall apart to save a few dollars until there's revenue to support it. I prefer to keep the country afloat,now, and use the surplus from when the Democrats put everything to rights to offset the deficit, later.

    March 9, 2010 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  6. Wake Up

    What happened to "pay as you go". NO MORE DEBT!! We need real statesmen and stateswomen to say no to the THUG IN CHIEF.

    March 9, 2010 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  7. Rick McDaniel

    This bill probably should pass. The provisions are needed now, and there doesn't seem to be too much pork slipped into it.

    March 9, 2010 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  8. Wake Up

    Lacrosse mom– foreign aid helps us keep democracy in the world....creates good will and IS A SMALL SMALL % of our budget. Wake up and understand that Obama is a fraud and you lap it up whenever you can. How can you not be disgusting by his lies, strong arm tactics and generational debt policies??

    March 9, 2010 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  9. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    IT'S CALLED HELP AMERICANS IN NEED and not help Republicans win elections.

    March 9, 2010 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  10. Josh in California

    I am glad to see this bill moving forward. I hope it is signed into law soon, as the unemployment situation is just horrendous. I have friends with BA degrees in computer science and engineering that are having to apply for fast food jobs.

    I agree with Richie on Mass that we should cut foreign aid to pay for domestic aid. That seems to make sense to me.

    March 9, 2010 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  11. MsDp

    The Democrats hate the spending just as much as everyone else. But since the GOP didn't care about spending during the time of a preceived economic uptick, they didn't consider the possibility of their preceived economic uptick burst. Therefore, any educated person knows that what the Democratic party has to do is just what they're doing or things would be 4 times worst than they are now. But if you are not thinking for yourself and you are just listening to FAUX News aka FOX News, and if you are listening to the GOP sound bite then you may not be using you knowledge from your Economics One Course or your common sense. Please don't be stupid again America and please think for your self!!!!

    March 9, 2010 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  12. Republicans Are The American Taliban

    Remember that the Taliban wants America and Americans to suffer....and for their own to raid the swag rooms at The Oscars and steal all of the goodies...

    March 9, 2010 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  13. How nice of you Richie in Mass...

    Richie in Mass,

    the only difference between Bush spending and today's spending is that we are spending to rebuild our country. Not some other country in middle east. You would not know the difference if it hit you in head. Also, l am sure that you are the one concerned with deficit last year, but going in two wars and giving tax breaks for top 1% wealthy was sound fiscal policy for you. l love how conservatives suddenly have become fiscal responsible. Just wondering where were you last 8 years? Oops forgot a democrat and black man is in white house. What a joke????

    March 9, 2010 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  14. french canadian that cant vote but has a big mouth

    Isnt unemployment unamerican?You Americans just love youe freebees.

    March 9, 2010 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  15. Cyrus

    When are you morons going to understand that a budget deficit is not a big issue when your GDP growth is high? Fast growing economies, including China and India have massive budget deficits, but they also have 8 to 12% GDP growth, compared to our 2 or 3%. Economic slowdown is the cause of the deficit. If we continue to increase our GDP growth like we have for the last few quarters, we would be able to get out of this deficit within 10 years. That's exactly how Clinton did it when Bush Sr. left a deficit in the early 90s.

    It's called progressive economics, instead of the same old lame "supply side" nonsense that Reagan preached.

    March 9, 2010 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  16. The Lady

    I would just like to know how many people have really read the health care reform bill or are you just repeating what you heard someone else say. If you have not read the bill and you are critizing it shame on you. DO YOUR HOMEWORK people do not depend on anyone to supply you with information concerning a major issue. If the Republicans told you that Joe the plumber is a great plumber would you hire him on the spot, or would you check Joe out???????

    March 9, 2010 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  17. I WANT MINES

    do you still have to pay union dues if you are laid off? i wonder what unions are going to get this kick back legalized by politicians i dont know these things because i am self employed so i cant draw unemployment when i dont have work i have to go out and hussle it up and do what i can understand that is MY choice and i am not beholden to obama for my jobs as he isnt bailing me out

    March 9, 2010 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  18. ran

    Nebraska please get ride of Nelson or demand he run as a Republican so a true Democrat can run and win.

    Nelson along with Lieberman,Lincoln and Buhy are the reason we don't have a better health care bill. We need to get them all out and replace them with either a true Democrat or Independent.

    March 9, 2010 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  19. Slider

    So, the unemployment bill clears a hurdle, huh?

    Bet it didn't have to jump too high...

    BTW, unemployment bills lengthen unemployment.

    March 9, 2010 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  20. Franky, Land of Lincoln

    I say we do it like Thomas Jefferson's presidency. His Treasury of Secretary promised to pay off our debt by lowering taxes and boy, was he making progress that's for sure.

    It is possible folks, all this spending and money wasting is more of a buzzkill than our Trade deficit, has anyone talked about the trade deficit? Anyone?

    March 9, 2010 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  21. Slider

    "When are you morons going to understand that a budget deficit is not a big issue when your GDP growth is high?"

    Methinks you don't know what GDP actually is.

    If you think a good GDP is a sign of overall wellness you are sadly mistaken.

    March 9, 2010 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  22. Mike in MN

    Add another 100 billion to the already dangerous and unsustainable deficits. Dangerous and unsustainable are not my words they are the words of the CBO.
    No where over the next decade and beyond does the economic growth ever come close to catching up to the spending based on Obama's new 3.8 trillion dollar budget.
    The CBO shows average deficits of 980 billion over the next 10 years. And the out years get progressivly worse not better. 940 billion in 2017, 1 trillion in 2018, 1.15 trillion in 2019 and 1.25 trillion in 2020.
    Obama and the progressives keep lying and telling us all of this spending will lead to great economic growth. But the current Obama plan produces average deficits of almost a trillion a year over the next decade. Deficits that the CBO says are dangerous and unsustainable. What ever economic growth is realized over the decade, each successive year sees spending increasing more than the economic growth. That is not economic prosperity, not even close, that is how a nation goes bankrupt.
    Obama and the progressvies are lying throught their teeth and the American people know better.

    March 9, 2010 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  23. I am the Great and Omnipotent Wizard of Rush and I Say . . .

    33 Republics and Ben Nelson voted to give the finger to the unemployed.

    Is everyone celebrating that the number of millionaires grew by 19 per cent in 2009? Quick, let's cut their taxes because they should get even more.

    March 9, 2010 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  24. m smith

    Well im sure his fellow repos love him. It is time we have some reason in the congress. Don't know if he is for real or just looking to getting elected to a higher office.

    March 9, 2010 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  25. ED FL

    I am suprised that the GOP politicos did not vote immediately on the unemployment bill they have benn unemployed since the election. The only say no GOP 'er's have not been doing thier job yet this session.

    March 9, 2010 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
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