Senator Mary Landrieu, D-Louisiana, voted with 65 others in the United States Senate today to block a potential filibuster by opponents of federal extended unemployment benefits, moving it towards a vote in the next few days.
As noted, the extended unemployment benefits expired back in December, but democrats alike have been pushing the issue to deter from larger, more unpopular issues such as Obamacare during an election year. The legislation would ultimately give 2 million people a five-month extension for their federal unemployment benefits.
It means that workers who ran out of either extended benefits, or whose maximum state benefits of 26 weeks expired, would get extended benefits. The payments would be retroactive to provide payments to people who lost benefits since the December expiration of the special unemployment benefits.
In Louisiana, the maximum unemployment benefit is $247 a month.
The legislation is likely to pass the senate, but Speaker of the House John Boehner said previously that he will not bring it up for a vote in his chamber.
Senator David Vitter, R-Louisiana, on the other hand, has taken the opposite stance when it comes to extended unemployment benefits. He has proposed legislation which would essentially disqualify recipients from receiving both unemployment insurance and disability insurance simultaneously, or what he calls “double dipping.”
“Too often Washington’s reaction to a problem is to throw money at it – and that’s the case with the current unemployment insurance extension proposal,” said Vitter in a news release. “Instead of finding job-creating solutions, Washington chooses to spend more, which is exactly why our country is so far in debt.”
Vitter’s legislation would mandate that if a person receives Social Security disability benefits for not being able to work physically, they cannot also receive federal assistance for not being able to find work. Vitter said that the programs are designed to help two different populations of people, but said people have abused the loophole, which allows you to collect both.
Vitter’s office has estimated that by eliminating “double dipping,” the savings would amount to about $1 billion over approximately 10 years.
In fiscal year 2010, at least 117,000 individuals received both Disability Insurance and Unemployment Insurance benefits. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimates the overlapping cash benefits paid to these individuals totaled over $281 million from DI and more than $575 million from UI.