Here we go again. Last night, Sens. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Max Baucus (D-Mont.), the Senate majority leader and the head of the Senate Finance Committee, introduced a new unemployment extension bill. It is not actually strictly standalone: It includes an extension of the period in which homebuyers can close on a house and claim the homebuyer tax credit, a change agreed to in the House yesterday, and other provisions.
“Folks in Montana and across the nation are struggling to find jobs in this tough economy, and every day these benefits are lapsed is another day Americans worry how they will feed their families while they look for work,” Baucus said in a press release. “I urge my colleagues to stand with us to support American families and restore the unemployment insurance benefits that are often the only lifeline many workers have in this tough economy.”
Reid filed for cloture last night, and is working with Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to move the bill today, though Republicans have repeatedly objected to any measure that increases the deficit.
The new bill extends federal unemployment insurance benefits through November 2010, and the closing period for qualification for the homebuyer tax credit to Sept. 30. It is technically a substitute amendment to the killed jobs legislation. Here is a summary of what’s in the bill:
Unemployment benefits: Restarts the emergency unemployment compensation program phased out at the end of May 2010. The program provides up to 53 weeks of extended benefits, depending on the state’s unemployment rate. The measure is retroactive — meaning that Americans who have lost their unemployment checks will be compensated — and goes through November.
Further extended benefits: Restarts funding for further tiers of unemployment benefits to 99 weeks.
Eliminates the penalty for part-time workers collecting unemployment benefits: Gives states the option to let U.I. claimants keep certain benefits if switching to state benefits would reduce their weekly U.I. check by at least $100 or 25 percent. These three provisions cost $33.9 billion over 10 years.
Extends the closing date for the homebuyer tax credit: Homebuyers need to have purchased a house by April 30, 2010. Now, they need to close by Oct. 1, not July 1, 2010. The provision is estimated to cost $140 million over 10 years.
Change to the Travel Promotion Act: The Department of Homeland Security was due to fund the Travel Promotion Board by the end of the year. This delays that funding start by a year. This change saves $95 million over 10 years.
No, you cannot claim a homebuyer tax credit from prison: Remember all those prisoners claiming the homebuyer tax credit — even when serving life sentences? This allows the IRS to disclose tax return information to prison officials, to help recoup money from fraudulent claims. This raises $6 million over 10 years.
Finding money elsewhere: This takes back $94 million in unspent Defense Department funding due to expire on Sept. 30, 2010. This saves $45 million over 10 years.