White House-backed legislation to renew jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed unexpectedly cleared its initial Senate hurdle this morning, but the bill’s fate remains shrouded in doubt. With a vote of 60-37 to limit debate on the legislation, a half-dozen Republicans sided with Democrats during the test vote.
As drafted, the unemployment benefits bill would restore between 14 to 47 weeks of benefits—averaging $256 weekly—to an estimated 1.3 million long-term unemployed job seekers. The first tier of additional funds, which are available after a claimant’s first 26 weeks of state-funded unemployment benefits have expired, is 14 weeks and generally available to all job seekers who have used up their state-funded benefits.
The additional 14 weeks are available to unemployed workers in states where the unemployment rate is 6% or higher. An additional 9 weeks are available in states with joblessness of 7% or higher, and in states where unemployment is 9% or higher, another 10 weeks of emergency benefits are available.
Without immediate action by Congress, thousands more long-term job seekers will be impacted each week as their state-funded benefits expire.
Read more about why the bill’s fate remains in doubt here.