Deal To Temporarily Extend Unemployment Benefits Fails in Senate
A temporary extension of unemployment insurance benefits, COBRA subsidies and a freeze on the scheduled cuts to physicians' Medicare payments failed to pass the Senate on Thursday after a bipartisan deal on the measure fell through, The Hill reports. The benefits are set to expire April 5 (Bolton, The Hill, 3/25).
The $9 billion measure, already passed by the House,Â would have extended the benefits until May 5.
The deal was needed because Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) on Thursday blocked the bill's approval because he said the package's cost was not offset and it would add to the federal deficit (Taylor, AP/Detroit Free Press, 3/25).
House Democrats refused the deal because the package should be considered "emergency spending" and therefore would not need to be funded, according to House Democratic Caucus Chair John Larson (Conn.) (Alarkon/Bolton, The Hill, 3/25).
A package that temporarily extended the benefits until April 5 was enacted earlier this month. However, another short-term extension is required to continue the benefits for another month while House and Senate leaders complete negotiations on longer-term legislation that would extend benefits through the end of the year (AP/Detroit Free Press, 3/25).
Democrats still hope to pass the month long extension before the Senate adjourns for its two-week recess next Wednesday (Alarkon/Bolton, The Hill, 3/25). According to The Hill, Senate sources say Democratic leaders are close to a deal with Coburn and expect Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to announce the agreement shortly (Bolton, The Hill, 3/25).
Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.) said that Democrats still might consider passing an extension that could be applied retroactively when the Senate reconvenes on April 12 (Alarkon/Bolton, The Hill, 3/25).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.