Reid and Baucus introduced a stand-alone bill last night to extend help to the 1.2 million people who prematurely lost jobless benefits last week. He's working with McConnell to try to get it on the floor today. In addition to the benefits extension, the bill would also extend the homebuyers' tax credit. Here is a summary of what’s in the bill:
Unemployment benefits: Restarts the emergency unemployment compensation program phased out at the end of May 2010. The program provides up to 53 weeks of extended benefits, depending on the state’s unemployment rate. The measure is retroactive — meaning that Americans who have lost their unemployment checks will be compensated — and goes through November.
Further extended benefits: Restarts funding for further tiers of unemployment benefits to 99 weeks.
Eliminates the penalty for part-time workers collecting unemployment benefits: Gives states the option to let UI claimants keep certain benefits if switching to state benefits would reduce their weekly UI check by at least $100 or 25 percent.
These three provisions cost $33.9 billion over ten years.
Extends the closing date for the homebuyer tax credit: Homebuyers need to have purchased a house by April 30, 2010. Now, they need to close by Oct. 1, not July 1, 2010. The provision is estimated to cost $140 million over ten years.
Change to the Travel Promotion Act (TPA): The Department of Homeland Security was due to fund the Travel Promotion Board by the end of the year. This delays that funding start by a year. This change saves $95 million over ten years.
No, you cannot claim a homebuyer tax credit from prison: Remember all those prisoners claiming the homebuyer tax credit — even when serving life sentences? This allows the IRS to disclose tax return information to prison officials, to help recoup money from fraudulent claims. This raises $6 million over ten years.
Finding money elsewhere: This takes back $94 million in unspent Defense Department funding due to expire on Sept. 30, 2010. This saves $45 million over 10 years.
Scott Brown has offered his own, "deficit-neutral" UI extension, which would take the money from unspent stimulus funds--yeah, the stimulus funds that are in the pipeline to create some jobs. Republicans don't want any job creation, they want a broken economy, and Brown is more than eager to help them get it.
Update: Brown just stood on the floor to talk about his bill, the one that would rob funds from the stimulus that's intended to create jobs.
His bill is undoubtedly in response to headlines like this one, from back home: Brown Joins Filibuster; Mass. Loses $700,000,000:
The Senate bill provided $700 million in federal aid to Massachusetts that was expected to help fund the fiscal 2011 budget. Sen. John Kerry said it was a "terrible blow" to the state to lose it. Remember when Brown said, as the Boston Globe reported, "I'll look at every bill for its merits and how it affects our state and then I'll make a decision" on January 20? Bostonist will need someone to explain the merits of losing $700 million to us.
This bill is also Brown's excuse to, once again, vote against this jobless benefits extension bill. Reid has to have one more vote to get this passed. It's not going to come from Ben Nelson, so Scott Brown is on the hot seat.
If you live in Massachusetts, it might not hurt to send him an e-mail or give him a call at (202) 224-4543 to let him know let him know you don't appreciate his cheating your state out of $700,000,000 and to vote for this damned bill.