By Ben Schaefer

The U.S. Senate is expected to approve a measure today that would extend emergency unemployment compensation (EUC) for five months. The bill, H.R. 3979 as amended, would retroactively provide benefits to those who would have otherwise received them had the program not expired at the end of 2013 and would fund the program through May of this year.

Job adsThe legislation also contains provisions that would: deny benefits to any individual whose adjusted gross income was $1 million or more in the previous year; require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a study about work search requirements in unemployment compensation programs; and fund the extension of services meant to assist unemployed workers in their job search. The measure would be paid for through an extension of customs user fees and a change in the way employers contribute to pension plans.

Although passage is expected in the Senate, the bill’s future in the House is uncertain. Most Democrats are seeking approval of the Senate bill as-delivered, arguing that the long-term unemployed desperately need these funds to make ends meet. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and many members of his caucus have expressed concern over the cost of the program, potential difficulties in implementation of the retroactivity and “millionaire” provisions (citing a letter from state unemployment administrators), and the need to address job creation programs. There are some Republicans supportive of the program’s extension. They vary, however, vary in their preferred approach to passage. Proposals range from tying GOP priorities (i.e. approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, changes to the Affordable Care Act) into the bill, to removing the retroactivity provision and simply funding the program five months forward from approval.

To receive the money, states would have to sign an implementation agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor that sets forth program guidelines.

The latest monthly numbers (March 2014) put the national unemployment rate at 6.7 percent—holding at the same rate as February and down from a peak of 10.0 percent in October 2009. For more information, please see NCSL’s page on the unemployment situation in the states.

Ben Schaefer is a policy associate with NCSL’s State-Federal Relations division in Washington, D.C. Email Ben

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This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.


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