The late Sen. Byrd’s West Virginia seat is scheduled to be filled by the appointee after 2:15 p.m. on Tuesday till then, the Senate would not be taking a cloture vote on the bill to extend federal unemployment benefits. The name of that appointee is supposed to be announced on 16 July by West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin. That is expected, that appointee is to give the 60th vote to the Senate, which is required to advance the bill that extends eligibility for unemployment benefits through the end of November to those who have been out of work longer than 26 weeks.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Wednesday, “the Senate would vote move forward with reauthorizing unemployment benefits on Tuesday morning, after the replacement for the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) has been sworn in.” According to laws, “now Governor Manchin must appoint the seat to a someone to temporarily fill the position with a Democrat…the vote needed to pass the unemployment extension.”
The passing of the late Senator Byrd has managed to scramble an already confusing process, and place delays in passing the legislation that dangerously affects the daily lives of millions of Americans. Cost of a final vote on the bill is $33 billion so Republicans and Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson have been preventing it. Reid said, “the GOP filibuster, which has prevented more than 2.1 million people from receiving checks, is designed to crater the economy. They’re betting on failure. They think the worse the economy is come November, the better they’re going to do election wise.” Reid said, “Almost two million people who are long-term unemployed. These are not numbers. They are people.”
Extended benefits are allowed by Congress for people who’ve been out of work for longer than six months to lapse at the beginning of June. Since then, to overcome the deficit reduction demands of the Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and the Republican party, Senate Democrats have repeatedly failed to muster 60 votes. Democrats came up just one yea short in the final vote just after Byrd’s death at the end of June, Democrats came up just one yea short. House Democrats in particular highlighted statements from Republicans suggesting extended benefits discourage people from looking for work.
On Wednesday, Democrats in the House and Senate held press conferences to blast Republicans for holding up the benefits. Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) said, “These are not people that are unaccustomed to work,” and “I’ve heard this absolute nonsense from the other side of the aisle that we better not extend unemployment benefits because people are going to get used to them. As if people enjoy living on the brink. The insult of that is beyond me.”
Barbara Banaszewski of Baltimore, Md., who was laid off in August and whose benefits will prematurely expire next week unless the Senate acts said, “I cannot think of one person who is unemployed who is losing their benefits who would walk up to their boss and say, ‘I would like to be unemployed starting tomorrow,” and “Let us have our integrity.“