What: All Issues : Aid to Less Advantaged People, at Home & Abroad : The Unemployed : H.R. 2185. Unemployment Benefits/Vote to Allow Consideration of a Republican-Drafted Bill to Extend Unemployment Benefits to a Limited Number of Jobless Workers. (2003 house Roll Call 213)
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H.R. 2185. Unemployment Benefits/Vote to Allow Consideration of a Republican-Drafted Bill to Extend Unemployment Benefits to a Limited Number of Jobless Workers.
house Roll Call 213     May 22, 2003
Progressive Position:
Nay
Progressive Result:
Loss

Federal unemployment benefits are one of the few protections afforded to individuals who have lost their jobs. Those benefits-which are worth $260 a week for thirteen weeks-only take effect after a worker has exhausted his/her state unemployment benefits (which are usually provided for a twenty-six week period) and remains unemployed. Due to a sluggish economy, the jobless rate is currently at six percent, an eight-year high, and 8.8 million people are unemployed. Many of those unemployed workers have been unable to find new jobs and have exhausted all their unemployment benefits. In an effort to provide financial protections for the unemployed, Senate Democrats have pursued a strategy of proposing amendments which would have expanded the benefits an additional twenty-six weeks to every piece of legislation considered in the Senate; GOP leaders, however, only wanted a thirteen-week extension of those benefits. House Democrats, whose procedural rights are limited compared to Senators, voted unanimously in opposition to a bill which would reauthorize funding for the National Transportation Safety Board and cited the House's failure to consider extending unemployment benefits as the sole reason for their objection. In a last-minute move to address the issue, GOP leaders drafted a bill to extend the federal unemployment benefit program to December 31, 2003 (the program was due to expire on May 31, 2003). Progressives noted that extending the federal unemployment insurance program by six months (which is equal to twenty-six weeks) would not provide financial assistance to those 1.1 million workers who have already exhausted their state and federal unemployment benefits; only recently unemployed workers would benefit from the program's extension. In the view of Progressives, the GOP-bill was a half-hearted effort that failed to provide the necessary level of financial support for those 1.1 million workers who need it the most (those who are no longer eligible to receive unemployment benefits). The subject of this vote was a motion to move the previous question (thus ending debate and the possibility of amendment) to allow for a vote on a rule governing debate on a bill to extend the unemployment benefit program through December 2003. Progressives voted against the motion based on their objections to the GOPdrafted legislation; in their view, a twenty-six week extension of unemployment benefits was needed to protect unemployed workers who are ineligible for any additional state or federal unemployment benefits. The motion to move the previous question was adopted on a 217-203 vote.

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