Senators Clear Filibuster Hurdle On Unemployment Benefits Bill

Under the Senate bill, unemployment aid would be restored to Americans who have been unemployed for more than 26 weeks.

Unemployment Ahead - Caution Sign Isolated On White.
Photo Credit: Jim Vallee/

A major step towards restoring benefits to the long-term unemployed has been cleared in the Senate.  By a vote of 60-37, with six Republicans supporting the bill, the Senate overcame a filibuster of the bill today.

The bill to restore the unemployment insurance will now have to be voted on a second time in the Senate, and the House will also have to pass it.  

The new year saw assistance halted to 1.3 million Americans who have been unemployed for more than 26 weeks.  Under the Senate bill, aid would be retroactively restored to those Americans.  Unemployment benefits first come from the state, but the federal government has been stepping in to help states aid those unemployed more than 26 weeks.  Some states have offered unemployment insurance for up to 63-73 weeks, but with the new year, that number dropped to 26 weeks or less.

“For many American families, these benefits were the difference between making ends meet and going hungry or becoming homeless,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said.

Still, it’s unclear whether the bill, first passed after the recession and continued until the end of 2013, will become law.  Republicans in the House say they need the measure to be fully paid for, and at least Senate Republican who voted to overcome the filibuster said she may not support enacting the measure.


Alex Kane is former World editor at AlterNet. His work has appeared in Mondoweiss, Salon, VICE, the Los Angeles Review of Books and more. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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