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Senate Takes Last Run at Longer Jobless Benefits

Wary of playing Scrooge during tough economic times, Congress is defying President George W. Bush's veto threat and considering extending unemployment benefits to the nation's growing jobless masses.

The Senate this week is expected to take up legislation already passed by the House that would extend unemployment insurance for those whose benefits have run out. The Senate vote could occur as early as Thursday evening and would require support from 60 senators to pass.

Bush has threatened to veto the bill, calling it fiscally irresponsible.

The Senate vote comes during the last session of the 110th Congress, during which the economy took the worst turn since the Great Depression and lawmakers approved a $700 billion economic bailout package.

The news is getting worse. The outgoing Congress is squabbling this week over whether to spend $25 billion of the bailout money to rescue the auto industry.

Lawmakers have two days at most to take final action before they adjourn for the year.

On Friday, the government announced jobless figures that translate into a quarter of a million pink slips, just before the holidays.

The nation's ranks of unemployed zoomed past 10 million, the most in a quarter-century, and new job losses totaled 240,000 last month.

The jobless rate soared to a 14-year high of 6.5 percent, up from 6.1 percent just a month earlier. And there was more grim news from U.S. automakers: Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp., American giants struggling to survive, each reported big losses and figured to be announcing even more job cuts before long.

The bill before the Senate would provide seven additional weeks of coverage for those who have exhausted their unemployment benefits.

The measure also would provide 13 more weeks of unemployment benefits, beyond the 26 weeks of regular coverage, for workers in states with at least 6 percent unemployment rates.

The extension would to pay out about $6 billion in benefits, according to a summary by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., and Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., who chairs a subcommittee of Rangel's panel.

Without the legislation, the authors say, 1.1 million people will have exhausted their unemployment insurance benefits by the end of the year.

Congress has enacted federally funded extensions seven times in the past 50 years during economic slumps — in 1958, 1961, 1972, 1975, 1982, 1991 and 2002.

The House also voted in June to extend unemployment benefits for three months, but that bill stalled in the face of opposition from Senate Republicans and a White House veto threat.

The Bush administration contends that past extensions occurred only when the unemployment rate was considerably higher and that it was fiscally irresponsible to provide extra benefits in states with low unemployment.

Unemployment insurance is a joint program between states and the federal government that is almost completely funded by employer taxes, either state or federal.

LAURIE KELLMAN, Associated Press


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Added: Nov-20-2008 
By: jeffreyd82
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  • Fiscally irresponsible? Are you kidding me Bush? Here's what you are saying: Give to the rich, but not to the ones who actually need it. Nice. That's why you will go down as the largest doosh to ever occupy the White House.

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    • Actually he will go down as one of the greatest presidents of all time. He only pisses off the liberals, no one else. I don't know anyone except my lib friends that say Bush did a bad job. He did an outstanding job and what pisses off the Liberals is that he won't back down and do what you want him to. He stayed the course and fought these bastards on thier soil and have them backed into a corner. Bin Laden is isolated and surrounded now and its just a matter of time now before he is captured or More..

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    • sure you're right!

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    • I think your right in time, as the details of how much danger there is out there becomes apparent under Obama.

      But you have to agree, this fucking guy didnt keep the libs in check on the budget, and should have slammed fannie and freddie to the wall a long time ago.

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    • It is fiscally irresponsible. Giving more incentive to people to stay out of work is a dumb idea. There are still PLENTY of jobs out there. We're nothing close to depression-era unemployment. This bill is just libs using the present situation to jam this bull shit robin hood mentality down the throats of American taxpayers.

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    • Thanks for the props goodon. Keep spreading your negativity onto others. Whatever makes you feel good to make up for your inadequacies.

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  • If you can't find a job within 6 months then you aren't trying. Work or starve!

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  • FYI

    Bush has already pledged to sign the legislation pending congressional approval.

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  • http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081120/ap_on_go_pr_wh/jobless_benefits

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  • Sure just give them the money, it's just paper anyway... Hot off the press baby, that's how I like it!

    Morons, all!

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  • Give us more free stuff! I love other peoples money!

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  • The more money the government gives out the weaker the dollar gets, when it's worthless everybody can have a million dollars

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