Unemployment Extension Bill HR 4213 Became a Law: What About the 99ers?

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Unemployment Extension Bill HR 4213 Became a Law: What About the 99ers? – A lot of unemployed Americans cheered Thursday afternoon when the much awaited Unemployment Extension Bill finally became a law as Obama signed it as soon as the House passed.

The bill underwent three days of  rigorous debate in the Congress. The first was from the Senate last Tuesday when the Republican filibuster was finally countered through the appointment of Senator Carte Goodwin who replaced the late Robert Byrd from West Virginia. Democrats won the first unemployment extension vote at 60-40.

The next day, another debate was held in the Senate for amendments made in the bill. Before the day ended, the bill moved closer to its passage after a 59-39 vote. Then the last approving authority, the House of Representatives finally approved it the day after that pushing the bill to Obama’s desk for his signature to become a law.

While some of the unemployed Americans would now be receiving their unemployment benefits, the 99ers, those unemployed people that have received 99 weeks of unemployment benefits would still be in their previous situation as this bill won’t provide any unemployment benefits for them. It could have been better if this bill is a Tier 5 unemployment extension but it’s not.

In addition, the key for those eligible unemployed Americans who are still in their Tier 1 to Tier 4 of unemployment benefits is to determine the current unemployment rates of their states. For those living in high unemployment rate states, meaning above 8.5%, 99 weeks would be maximum amount of time an unemployed individual could receive unemployment benefits. However, for those ones living in low unemployment rate states which is below the 8.5% threshold, 86 weeks would be the maximum amount of time.

Moreover, two additional unemployment benefits available previously were cut off in this bill –  the Federal Additional Compensation Program providing an extra of $25 per week of unemployment benefits payments and COBRA.

Since this unemployment extension bill is not a Tier 5 and would just extend the filing deadline for unemployment insurance benefits which expired last June 2 to until November 30, all unemployed Americans would become 99ers come the end of November. By that time, the Congress would debate again for another unemployment extension bill that would provide unemployment benefits to millions of unemployed Americans.

Do you think that come November, America has enough jobs for all unemployed individuals? Will the unemployment rates decrease by that time? I think the Congress would need to make another bill by that time. Since the Senate elections are scheduled to be held on November 2, 2010 for 37 of the 100 seats in the United States Senate, our politicians, especially the Republicans, should do their best to address this growing concern of the unemployed voters.