Senate Votes to Continue Jobless Aid Extensions Through 2010

The Senate yesterday approved a measure that includes a continuation of current unemployment benefit extensions and COBRA insurance subsidies through the end of the year. The bill, which also includes a six month extension of increased reimbursements to states for Medicaid and additional state fiscal relief, passed by a vote of 62 to 36. It now goes to the House, which may pass it as is or seek to work through any differences with the Senate version in a conference. Either way, action for final approval before it’s signed by President Obama needs to be swift, as these programs currently extend only through March 31.

When signed into law, the bill would ensure a continuation of all current extended unemployment compensation (EUC) and extended benefits (EB) programs, as well as the additional $25 per week unemployment insurance (UI) payment and the federal 65% subsidy to eligible COBRA beneficiaries.

Six Republicans joined 56 Democrats voting in favor of the bill. Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska was the single “No” vote among Senate Democrats. The Republicans voting “Yes” were Senators Bond (MO), Collins (ME), Snowe (ME), Murkowski (AK), Vitter (LA) and Voinovich (OH).

The Senate has posted the results of the Roll Call Vote on the bill.

Action on the measure in the Senate came on the same day that the Department of Labor released the latest state-by-state unemployment figures.

Comparing the Roll Call Vote and the states’ unemployment report reveals that many Republican Senators from states with high, and in many cases double-digit unemployment rates opposed the jobless benefit extensions.

Some examples, with the unemployment rate for the state and Senators voting against the benefits extension:

Alabama 11.1%
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R)
Sen. Richard Shelby (R)

Arizona 9.2%
Sen. Jon Kyl (R)
Sen. John McCain (R)

Florida 11.9%
Sen. George LeMieux (R)

Georgia 10.4%
Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R)
Sen. Johnny Isakson (R)

Kentucky 10.7%
Sen. Jim Bunning (R)
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R)

Mississippi 10.9%
Sen. Thad Cochran (R)
Sen. Roger Wicker (R)

North Carolina 11.1%
Sen. Richard Burr (R)

South Carolina 12.6%
Sen. Jim DeMint (R)
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R)

Tennessee 10.7%
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R)
Sen. Bob Corker (R)

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