Senate Passes 30-Day Extension of UI, COBRA Tax Subsidies

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The Senate late March 2 voted 78-19 to pass a temporary 30-day extension of unemployment benefits and health care subsidies for individuals who have lost their jobs after Senate leaders reached an agreement with Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) to allow the bill to move forward. The bill (H.R. 4691) would provide for a short-term extension of a federal tax credit to employers that allows the government to pick up 65 percent of the cost of health insurance premiums for displaced workers. The bill also contains a temporary extension of funding for federal highway programs. Bunning had objected to allowing the bill to be passed by unanimous consent and argued that its $10.3 billion cost should be offset by disallowing a tax credit that could be claimed by paper manufacturers that fuel their plants using a pulp byproduct known as black liquor.