Category Archives: Unemployment

Senators Vote on Amendments to Small Business Legislation

Senators have taken a series of votes on amendments in relation to the SBIR and STTR Reauthorization Act (S. 493). Each required 60 votes for passage.

Several dealt with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulating greenhouse gas emissions.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) offered an amendment that would “fully revoke the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act,” according to POLITICO. It was defeated by a vote of 50-50.

Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) offered an amendment that would have exempted “agriculture and small industrial facilities from climate rules.” Baucus said his amendment focused on protecting agriculture producers. It was defeated by a vote of 7-93.

Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) wanted to impose a “two-year delay on EPA climate rules for industrial facilities.” His amendment was defeated by a vote of 12-88.

Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) offered an amendment that would “prevent the government from regulating carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and oil refineries for two years,” according to the Kalamazoo Gazette. It was defeated by a vote of 7-93. According to The Hill, it would also “exempt agriculture from greenhouse-gas rules and boost a tax credit program for manufacturing green-energy equipment, among other provisions.”

Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) also received votes on two of his amendments. The first would “prohibit unemployment insurance for Americans earning one million dollars or more in adjusted gross income,” according to an e-mail from his office.

It would do so by requiring “those seeking unemployment insurance payments to sign a form certifying the applicant did not earn $1 million or more in the previous year.” The amendment was adopted by a vote of 100-0.

His second amendment would require the Office of Management and Budget and “the executive branch to consolidate duplication within federal agencies identified in a recent GAO report on duplication.” They would “have to rescind at least $5 billion in duplicative spending where they are able to do so administratively.” The amendment was adopted by a vote of 64-36.

A Democratic alternative offered by Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-HI) was defeated by a vote of 57-43.

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Filed under Climate Change, EPA, General Government, Small Business, Unemployment

Tester Introduces the Ending Unemployment Payments to Millionaires Act

Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) introduced the Ending Unemployment Payments to Millionaires Act today, according to a press release from his office.

The bill would “stop federal unemployment payments to Americans who earn at least $1 million per year.” It’s estimated to save around $100 million.

“Especially during tough economic times, hardworking taxpayers shouldn’t be asked to write unemployment checks for folks fortunate enough to have seven-figure trust funds or real-estate investments,” Tester said in the release.

Some background:

In 2008, nearly 3,000 households that reported income of $1 million or more on their tax returns were paid a total of $18.6 million in unemployment benefits, according to the IRS.  More than 800 households earning over $2 million and 17 households with incomes exceeding $10 million received federal benefits.

Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Mark Udall (D-CO) are also lead authors. Bill text linked here.

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Filed under Unemployment

Murkowski Sees Health Repeal Effort as Wasted Time

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) “on Thursday cast doubt on the manner in which Republicans have attempted to repeal the healthcare law,” The Hill reports.

Murkowski said that she would vote to repeal the law if a vote was held in the Senate, but she said [that]enough votes do not exist in the upper chamber to strike the law. As a result, Republicans should focus on other issues such as unemployment, spending and the federal debt and deficit, she said.

"The real question is, how much time do we as a Congress spend on this messaging?" Murkowski asked during an interview with KTVA-TV.

She argued that Congress “should seriously focus on reducing healthcare costs, but repeal efforts have not satisfied that need.”

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Filed under Budget, Health, Unemployment

Senate Passes Tax Cut / Unemployment Extension Package

Senators have given final passage to the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act (H.R. 4853) by a vote of 81-19.  It now goes over to the House.

According to the AP, this bill “would provide a two-year reprieve in the tax increases scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1 at all income levels, reduce Social Security taxes for every wage earner in 2011 and extend an expiring program of jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed.”

There is also a “change in the estate tax that Republicans won as part of the deal.”

The first $5 million of a couple’s estate could pass to heirs without taxation, and an additional $5 million could be passed along for the spouse. The balance would be subject to a 35 percent tax rate.

The estate tax was repealed for 2010. But under current law, it is scheduled to return next year with a top rate of 55 percent on the portion above $1 million, $2 million for couples.

The “estimated cost, $858 billion over two years, would be added to already-huge federal deficits.”

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Filed under Energy, Taxes, Unemployment

Senate Defeats Motions to Tax Package

Senators have defeated three motions in relation to the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act (H.R. 4853).

Each motion was aimed at suspending the rules for the purpose of offering an amendment to the tax cut compromise package.  Since the “amendment tree” was procedurally filled on this legislation, such a motion is essentially the only way to amend the bill.  Sixty-seven affirmative votes were needed to adopt the motions.

ABC News provides a brief look at each one:

The votes will be on a proposal by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., to pay for the cost of extending unemployment benefits with spending cuts; a plan by Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., to permanently extend the tax cuts and repeal the estate tax; and a proposal by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., to extend the tax cuts only for the bottom 98 percent of taxpayers and extend the Making Work Pay tax credit that was part of the stimulus plan instead of a payroll tax holiday.

The votes:

  • Coburn motion: Defeated, 47-52
  • DeMint motion: Defeated, 37-63
  • Sanders motion: Defeated, 43-57

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Filed under Energy, Taxes, Unemployment