The U.S. Senate has a cloture vote scheduled for Monday, December 13, 2010 at 3:00 PM EST to determine if the proposed compromise bill on tax cuts for all Americans and the extension of unemployment benefits for Tiers 1-4 for 13 months can be taken to the floor for an up or down vote. Only in America can we have a system where something must get a super-majority of 60 votes in favor of passage to subsequently be passed by a simple majority! And people wonder why over 700 bills and actions in the 111’TH Congress have moved from the House into the Senate only to die in mass out of benign neglect. One should remember that all legislation forwarded by the House to the Senate that has not been acted on by the close of the 111’TH Congress would be dead going into the 112’TH Congress. This would include the current compromise on tax cuts and unemployment benefits should this bill not achieve passage by the end of the 111’TH Congress.
Many are predicting that this bill will receive enough votes to get to the magic number of 60 and pass cloture. It will most likely take some moves by a handful of Republicans to cross party lines and vote in favor of cloture as not all Democrats are wildly in favor of this compromised offering. Still furious with President Obama for giving into Republican demands that tax cuts be extended for everyone, including the mega-wealthy, some Democratic & Independent Senators have vowed to vote against cloture. The more democrats defecting means more republicans will have to cross over to vote in favor of the cloture motion. It will be an interesting vote nonetheless just to see how many democrats and how many republicans wind up supporting passage of the bill as amended.
Many of the proponents of the creation of a Tier V, or an expansion of benefits beyond the existing Tiers 1-4, are in support of providing these much needed benefits to America ‘s estimated 6 million 99ers. The Senate bill, as it currently stands, has no allowances for the expansion of unemployment benefits for the 99ers. In light of the fact that this bill continues tax breaks for the wealthiest American’s while leaving the 99ers out in the cold, many people are quietly hoping that cloture will fail and the bill will have to be further amended to include relief for the 99ers.
This is a very complex chain of interwoven negotiations with each side dancing to different drummers. While trying to pass much needed legislation for the millions of existing unemployed that were collecting on Tiers 1-4 that are now seeing their benefits expire due to the expiration of authorization on November 30’TH, Congress has its work cut out for them. Some have indicated that despite shortcomings in the Senate version, it is best to simply pass the bill now to get it out of the Senate and over to the House quickly for discussion of any further amendments. With House democrats up in arms about the content of this legislation, one can reasonably expect that amendments will be offered up in the House prior to a vote. It must be noted that any amendments made by the House to the bill will require another vote on the altered bill in the Senate.
With the existing Congressional schedule poised to have 111’TH Congress shut down on Friday, December 17’TH, much work is needed to be done in a very short period of time to see a bill completed and moved on to the President for his signature. Anyone watching this whirling dervish called legislation is quickly reminded of the old adage – there are two things that you don’t want to see how they are made; laws and sausages!