Source Pravda.Ru

U.S. Senate to Extend Jobless Benefits

Thursday Senate Democrats have reached an agreement to extend unemployment insurance benefits to the nearly 2 million jobless U.S. workers who are in danger of running out of assistance by the end of the year.

The deal would give an additional 14 weeks of benefits to jobless workers in all states. Workers in states with an unemployment rate at 8.5 percent or above would receive six weeks on top of that.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., tried to bring the measure to a quick vote on the Senate floor, but Republicans objected, saying they needed more time to study the proposal and its costs and possibly offer amendments.

The House last month approved legislation that gives 13 weeks of extended benefits, but only in those 27 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico that have unemployment rates of at least 8.5 percent, The Associated Press reports.

It was also reported, backers had hoped for quick passage. The vote, however, was delayed until next week after Republican Senator Jon Kyl objected.

Reuters quoted Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as saying, "It is unfortunate that Senate Republicans have chosen to object to this much needed assistance. It is my hope that they will put partisanship aside and support an extension of unemployment benefits next week," Reid said.
The national unemployment rate of 9.8 percent is at its highest level in 26 years. Congressional Democrats have been working to extend jobless benefits for those who risk exhausting them by the end of the year. Some 400,000 may have already used them up, Reuters reports.

News agencies also report, Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, the chamber’s No. 2 Republican, blocked the agreed-upon plan from coming up for a vote yesterday because he said his colleagues didn’t have enough time to study it.

“I have no doubt that at the appropriate time we’ll be able to work out some kind of agreement,” said Kyl. “But our side is going to need some time to look at it.”

Lawmakers are considering other actions amid the widening job losses.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, said Democrats may extend a $8,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers that expires Dec. 1. She said lawmakers also are debating whether to expand tax breaks for companies, Bloomberg reports.



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