The U.S. Senate is expected to vote next week on whether to extend unemployment benefits through November for those who have been out of work longer than 26 weeks. This would be the fourth vote on the bill. A Republican voting block objecting to the $33 billion cost to taxpayers stalled the other three.
State-funded unemployment benefits offer 26 weeks of coverage, but Congress approved an extension of those benefits up to an addition 73 weeks using federal money. Those federal benefits are divided into tiers, and all those seeking benefits must re-apply every time a new tier is reached.
Currently, those still unemployed and in their first 26 weeks of state-funded benefits can’t apply for extended federal benefits. Nor can persons receiving federal money and attempting to move on to the next tier.
The biggest hindrance to the process is that Democratic senators have to wait for West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (D) to appoint an interim senator to replace the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D.).
Various news outlets report that if Manchin names an appointee by July 12, it is possible the Senate could approve the bill and send it to President Obama as soon as July 16. If approved, those who missed checks will be paid retroactively.
Meanwhile, the unemployed continue to play the waiting game. Jim Cain, a New Jersey man who lost his job in December, is ineligible to receive federal benefits and afraid of what he’ll have to do if the bill isn’t passed soon.
“It’s all in the timing. If I’d had moved my getting-canned date up by about a month I might end up being eligible for five more months of compensation,” the 61-year-old Cain told the Huffington Post. “When I pay my bills at the end of July I’ll have to dip into my retirement savings. That’ll kill me.”
On July 1, the House passed the legislation 270-153.