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Well I'm happy someone's at least on top of this:

The bipartisan Senate duo that has pushed all year to renew long-term unemployment insurance has revived the stalled effort with new legislation on Tuesday.

Sens. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) unveiled a bill that would provide aid to jobless workers who use up the standard six months of benefits available in most states.

"Restoring unemployment insurance is the decent thing to do," Reed said in a press release, "and it is a smart step that will provide some much needed stability and predictability to the long-term unemployed as well as to local businesses and our economy as a whole."

Unlike the previous bill that passed the Senate, the new one would not provide retroactive lump-sum payments to some 3 million jobless workers who have not gotten a check since December. But if someone who would have been eligible for additional weeks of benefits after December is currently looking for work, under the new bill they could resume their unemployment claims where they left off.

The measure's cost would be offset with the same revenue increases proposed in the previous legislation -- offsets that were crucial to winning enough Republican support to pass the Senate. - Huffington Post, 6/24/14

Here's some more info:

Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Dean Heller (R-NV) during a news conference calling on Speaker Boehner to move forward on a vote for an Unemployment Insurance extension without job creating provisions on May 1, 2014 in Washington, D.C. John Shinkle/POLITICO
The legislation will include five months of extended benefits — past 26 weeks — paid for by changes to pension laws and an extension of Customs fees through 2024, as did the bill that passed the Senate in April.

But rather than let the long-term unemployed claim months of past benefits in a lump sum, this legislation would provide people “who are still looking for work to pick up where they left off,” according to a source familiar with the bill.

This key distinction may have an advantage over the previous bill that passed the Senate but was ignored by the House. State unemployment benefits providers had warned that the retroactive nature of the earlier bill might lead to overpayments and burden states with verifying that people had been looking for work each week since benefits expired in 2013.

By avoiding retroactive benefits, the latest legislation may avoid some of the critiques that the previous iteration was hard to implement. And the lack of a firm expiration date will also increase the bill’s shelf life if it takes Reed and Heller a few months to pass the bill, as occurred earlier this year.

But there’s still a mountain of work on the bill for the two lawmakers, particularly Heller, who must again sell his legislation to a skeptical Republican caucus. Five Republicans previously joined Heller and Reed to push through the earlier bill, but those members had not yet signed onto the new legislation as of Monday afternoon, according to aides in both parties.

Heller and Reed must also convince Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and his leadership team to shake up their Senate agenda in July — perhaps the last full month of legislation before election season goes into full swing — to accommodate the unemployment insurance effort.

For his part, the Democratic leader vowed earlier this month to put the bill on the floor if Heller can round up enough Republican votes to guarantee that the bill could again clear the 60-vote threshold in the Senate.

“What he’s doing is scrambling to get a few more Republicans,” Reid said when asked about unemployment insurance. “Anytime Sen. Heller makes a little progress on this we’ll bring it back. Because people are just as desperate today as they were two months ago.” - Politico, 6/23/14

Reed and Heller are calling for serious action from their colleagues:

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 03:  Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), left, and Dean Heller (R-NV), standing in front of a screen showing an increasing number count to represent the number of Americans losing their unemployment insurance, speak to the press after a 61-35 vote in the Senate to advance the Reed-Heller bill on April 3, 2014 in Washington, DC. The bill, now expected to pass the Senate on Monday, would reinstate emergency unemployment insurance benefits for five months.  (Photo by T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images)
“We need to get our country back to full employment — to a place where all Americans have an opportunity to earn a living and build a better life for their families,” said Senator Reed.  “Restoring unemployment insurance is the decent thing to do, and it is a smart step that will provide some much needed stability and predictability to the long-term unemployed as well as to local businesses and our economy as a whole.  That is why Senator Heller and I continue working on bipartisan solutions that will help job seekers.  I appreciate Senator Heller’s steadfast leadership and commitment to helping more people who’ve been out of work return to the labor force.”

“This year has been extremely difficult for Nevadans who still do not know how they are going to pay their bills or feed their families. Senator Reed and I have gone back to the drawing board, and put together a new proposal that I hope both chambers of Congress can debate and vote on. This new bill allows for job-seeking Americans to collect these important benefits moving forward, and pays for them as well. I am grateful to Senator Reed for his continued partnership on this important issue.  His input and his friendship have been invaluable over the past many months,” said Senator Heller.

Similar to the Senate-passed Reed-Heller bill, this proposal uses a combination of offsets that includes extending “pension smoothing” provisions from the 2012 highway bill (MAP-21), which were set to phase out this year, and extending customs user fees through 2024.

The new the legislation, like the previous Reed-Heller bill, includes a provision modeled on Senator Tom Coburn’s (R-OK) and Jon Tester’s (D-MT) language that ends federal unemployment insurance payments to any individual whose adjusted gross income in the preceding year was $1 million or more.  This provision received unanimous support in the Senate when it was voted on in 2011. - Mesquite Local News, 6/24/14

Action needs to be done about this ASAP.  Here's an example of what people are going through right now:

It's been a rough 18 months on Capitol Hill — budget sequestration, a debt ceiling battle, various contentious committee investigations, gridlock over bills both sides see as vital.

But the last year and a half have been much worse for Imari Ridley-Daniels.

First, Ridley-Daniels, 28, lost her job as an administrative assistant at a Maryland funeral home. Unable to pay her car note, she then lost her car. For the first few months, she used state unemployment to cover basic costs for her and her 4-year-old daughter, who is autistic.

Eventually, the two moved into Ridley-Daniels's mother's home, in part to save money, but also to care for her mother who had cancer. After her mother died on Christmas Day, Ridley Daniels and her daughter moved into a small, barely-furnished apartment in a scrappy red brick building in Oxon Hill, Md. Family members have chipped in with money and child care, and Ridley-Daniels -- who is now on food stamps -- sends out dozens of résumés and job applications each day.

"It's just really draining emotionally to not be able to provide for your child," Ridley-Daniels said during an interview with The Post last week, during which she flashed her bright smile to mask the fact that she was often fighting tears. "It just makes you feel like the scum of the earth."

Ridley-Daniels is one of the 3.1 million Americans who would have been eligible for federal long-term unemployment benefits -- given to those who have exhausted their state unemployment -- had Congress not allowed the program to expire last December.

Under the federal unemployment system, someone who loses a job typically receives unemployment benefits from the state for 26 weeks. But in 2008, Congress voted to provide additional aid that made checks available for as long as 99 weeks in the hardest-hit states. Last year, lawmakers cut the maximum benefit to 73 weeks. Then, at the end of December, Congress let federal aid lapse altogether. - Washington Post, 6/24/14

For more information, please do contact Senators Reed and Heller for more information.

Reed: (202) 224-4642

Heller: (202) 224-6244

Originally posted to pdc on Tue Jun 24, 2014 at 01:20 PM PDT.

Also republished by The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

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