Senate could extend jobless benefits, Times says
The US Senate is expected to break a stalemate today over extending unemployment benefits for millions of out-of-work Americans, The New York Times is reporting.
The debate has been stalled since June, with Democrats being one vote short of Senate approval.
Today Carte Goodwin is scheduled to be sworn in to succeed Robert C. Byrd, the Democratic Senator from West Virginia who died last month. Along with the support of Senators Susan Collins and Olympia J. Snowe, both Maine Republicans, Senate Democrats believe they have the 60 votes needed to prevent a Republican filibuster of the measure, The Times is reporting.
The Senate bill up for consideration would set aside additional money for Americans who have exhausted their standard 26 weeks of jobless benefits. It would extend through Nov. 30 the emergency benefits that would allow unemployed workers to collect for up to 99 weeks.
Senate Republicans object to the measure because its costs are projected to add about $34 billion to a rapidly rising federal deficit. They contend that the measure should be paid for by making spending cuts elsewhere in the federal budget.
Democrats counter that Republicans are out of touch with the suffering of out-of-work Americans who need immediate relief.
The Massachusetts jobless rate declined to 9 percent in June from 9.2 percent in May, but much of that decline was attributed to workers giving up their job searches and dropping out of the labor force. Only those who actively seek work are counted as unemployed.
The national unemployment rate was 9.5 percent last month.
To read a recent Globe story about how the stalemate has been affecting some unemployed workers in Massachusetts, please click here.