Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Senate Oks Plan to Extend Benefits for Unemployed

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Senate Oks Plan to Extend Benefits for Unemployed

Article excerpt

The Senate approved legislation Saturday extending jobless benefits for 1 million Americans. The action ended weeks of stalemate that had left long-term unemployed workers without extra assistance since October.

Senators approved the $1.1 billion measure by a 79-20 vote and shipped it to the House. Lawmakers there were expected to send it to President Bill Clinton for his signature before they adjourn for the year early this week.

"Let's no longer delay the unemployment-insurance extension that is and will be so badly needed," said Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell, D-Maine.

The unemployment measure would provide up to 13 weeks of extra jobless benefits for an estimated 1 million Americans. Eligible would be workers who used up, or will use up, their 26 weeks of basic unemployment coverage between last Oct. 2 and next Feb. 5.

Approval came after senators voted 63-36 to drop what had been the final stumbling block to passage: a Republican amendment locking in Clinton's plan to pare 252,000 positions from the federal bureaucracy. The defeated GOP measure would have saved $22 billion over the next six years.

"This is the last chance we're going to have this year to cut something," said Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas, the amendment's sponsor. "This is the last opportunity we're going to have to save the taxpayers money."

Democratic leaders had warned that including Gramm's amendment would have delayed passage of the jobless-benefits bill because they would not have brought the measure to a final vote with the amendment. They said they feared such a provision would have limited Clinton's flexibility to gradually trim the government's work force.

"This is a judgment that lands in the houses of a third of a million Americans," said Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, D-N.Y., referring to the jobless workers who would have qualified for the benefits had they already been enacted.

The emergency benefits program was initially established in November 1991 after several fights between congressional Democrats and an initially resistant President George Bush.

It lapsed for the first time Oct. 2 due to fights among lawmakers over how the benefits should be financed. …

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