Senate Passes Jobless Benefits Extension

January 7, 2003 ( - The new Republican-controlled US Senate has extended unemployment benefits for about 750,000 laid off workers.

According to a Reuters news report, benefits were cut off to the workers December 28 when legislation extending the normal 26 weeks of coverage for another 13 weeks expired. The Senate proposal now expires June 1.

Democrats said the legislation would still exclude about 1 million unemployed workers who have exhausted all benefits including the extra 13 weeks. After a testy debate with Republicans, Democrats backed the compromise bill in order to make sure there was no further disruption in payments for those cut off last month, the Reuters story said.

“Passage of this bill, as important as it is, will leave many, many people without any means of support going forward and we must turn our attention to these people who have exhausted their benefits,” Sen. Hillary Clinton said, according to Reuters. Clinton, (D-New York) was a chief sponsor of the compromise bill.

Republicans blocked an amendment offered by Clinton that would have extended payments to all unemployed workers – even those who have exhausted their added 13 weeks.The House is expected to take up the measure on Wednesday when House Democrats are expected to push for broader unemployment coverage.

Lawmakers are anxious to quickly approve a new extension in order to avoid a disruption in benefits to unemployed workers. In order to avoid disruption in benefits to those cut off last month, the bill has to land on President Bush’s desk for his signature by Thursday, Reuters said.