Monday, March 01, 2010

Sen. Jon Kyl Says Congress Will Pass Extended Jobless Benefits

Congress will pass legislation aimed at keeping certain jobless benefits, highway and transit money and other government programs funded, Sen. Jon Kyl, the Senate's No. 2 Republican, said Sunday.

But the approval was highly unlikely to come before this morning. Several programs were to expire at midnight Sunday, and Congress has failed to extend them because of an objection by Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky. Bunning wants the $10 billion price offset by budget reductions.

The Senate is not expected to act until Tuesday at the earliest, which means as of this morning, certain extended jobless benefits will not be available. Neither will some highway or transit funds, small-business loans or help for newly laid-off workers for their insurance premiums.

Kyl, though, told Fox News Sunday flatly, "It will pass."

The Arizona senator also sympathized with Bunning. Recently, Congress adopted "pay as you go" rules requiring that, in many cases, new programs must be paid for. So why, Bunning asked, if these extensions are so popular, can't Congress find the money to fund them?

Democrats continued to express anger.

"Because of one senator's irresponsible actions, over 61,000 Michigan workers will begin losing their unemployment benefits on Monday," said Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.

Most people already getting extra jobless benefits are unlikely to be affected. Those who will feel the impact could include people who have exhausted their 26 weeks of state benefits and qualify for more aid under federal guidelines.

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