The $15B Jobs Bill, Then $10B Jobless Benefits, Now Big Sister: HR 4213, "Tax Extenders Act of 2009" Moves Forward in Senate

Published March 9, 2010, 9:27 pm, CST

by Diane W. Collins


Sen. Scott BrownThe $15B jobs bill was cut down from $85B in the Senate and passed in the House. Then Congress extended jobless benefits for approximately one month, at a cost of $10B (HR 4691). The bill was the center of controversy last week with PAYGO and Jim Bunning. And now HR 4213, The Tax Extenders Act of 2009 which portends to add more than $100B in unpaid liabilities to the national deficit is moving forward in the Senate. Is anyone else just a little confused?


I tried to review the history. Two bills were introduced by Rep. Charlie Rangel; HR 4213 on December 7, 2009, and HR 4691 on February 25, 2010. Reportedly Sen. Harry Reid let the House know getting a bill that would add more than $100B in unpaid liabilities to the national deficit through the Senate might be a little tough at the moment. But there was a problem. Time was running out on jobless benefits and Reid wanted a temporary extension in place. The $10B Jobless Benefits bill was the fix.


Back to the "Big Sister," HR 4213. Today, the Senate has been adding amendments (some might say loading the bill) up until this afternoon. Gratefully, during the morning (R-OK) Sen. Tom Coburn's Amendment 3358 passed which requires all Senate earmarks attached to HR 4213 be publicly disclosed. Yet Democrats continued their attempt to load. Then, this afternoon a vote for cloture came.


Cloture or "closure" is a parliamentary procedure. It is usually used by the majority party to end a minority party filibuster or the addition of amendments whose purpose is to slow down or make a bill impassable. We live in strange times. Today it was Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) who called for cloture during the Baucus Amendment to HR 4213. After a week of debate, Brown wanted to close the discussion and the ability to incorporate further amendments moving the bill forward to an up or down vote. With cloture the Senate may limit consideration of a pending matter to 30 additional hours, but only by vote of three-fifths of the full Senate, normally 60 votes. Cloture passed 66 to 34.


What happens next? It is our understanding procedurally the Senate will take a vote on The Tax Extenders Act of 2009. If it passes it will be sent back to the House because of the Senate amendments. This is the bill President Obama has asked Congress to pass in order to extend "benefits" through the end of the year. It's the bill he discussed in his "campaign style" address at OPOWER last week. Unfortunately, most of it is unpaid for (there are minor tax offsets). Additionally, it appears to have a lot of wasteful spending. Hopefully, Sen. Coburn's amendment will help bring this to light.


Once again, when do these guys run out of checks? We need to keep an eye on this.











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