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Senate to vote on unemployment insurance extension this week

By Jacqueline Klimas, The Washington Times
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Feb. 04--Sen. Jack Reed, Rhode Island Democrat, said Tuesday that the Senate will vote on a three-month, paid-for extension to long-term unemployment benefits sometime this week.

"We are at a critical moment. It's been 38 days since emergency unemployment compensation expired due to obstruction by Republicans in Congress," Mr. Reed said. "This week we'll have the opportunity, I hope, to vote to renew UI."

The federal, long-term unemployment insurance, which begins once state benefits run out, expired Dec. 28, leaving 1.7 million people currently without the insurance. The Senate's effort to extend the benefits failed in early January when Republicans filibustered a paid-for, 11-month extension that they said didn't offer a realistic offset, since savings came outside the 10-year budget window.

The Democrats' latest plan would pay for a three-month extension with "pension smoothing," which decreases the employer contribution and increases taxable income in pension plans, Mr. Reed said. The short-term extension would be retroactive to Dec. 28.

The plan addresses Republican concerns that the previous deal was too long and wasn't paid for, Mr. Reed said.

"It's a technique that's been used before by both Republicans and Democrats," he said. "I don't think that's going to cause any controversy."


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