(9AM EST – promoted by Nightprowlkitty)
I’m going to make this a short diary in order to get straight to the point.
As you probably know, the House has passed H.R. 4213, which would keep in place the unemployment extensions until the end of November.
The Senate Republicans, with the help of Democrat Ben Nelson were able to filibuster the Senate version of the bill by a single vote. The reason why the Democrats were a vote short was because Senator Robert Byrd from West Virginia died.
By the start of next week 2.5 million Americans will exhaust their unemployment benefits, 3.5 million by the end of the month.
So what’s the hold up?
There are some scary statements on the web, including a rumor that Byrd’s old seat will remain empty until November. That’s not true.
West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin, in order to make an interim appointment of a U.S. Senator, needs to be authorized to do so by the West Virginia legislature.
The West Virginia legislature was not scheduled to return to work until July 19. This makes things awfully tight because the U.S. Congress will go on vacation at the end of July and not return to work until September.
So what Manchin did was call a special session of the West Virginia legislature for Thursday, July 15, to grant him executive power to appoint an interim U.S. Senator. Once Manchin appoints the interim senator, the Democrats should have enough votes to pass the unemployment extension.
Manchin was quoted today of expecting to nominate an interim replacement for no later than Sunday, and maybe as early as Friday. That’s assuming that the West Virginia legislature doesn’t play any political games.
What Manchin really wants cleared up is the legal status of Robert Byrd’s old senate seat.
Following Mr. Byrd’s death on June 28th, the secretary of state initially ruled no special election could be held this year, meaning an interim appointee would serve until November 2012. But the state attorney general said this week that Governor Manchin has the authority to schedule an election this year.
“After receiving opinions from both our state’s secretary of state and attorney general, it is apparent that we must have clarity in the law or we risk judicial intervention, which would cost much more than a special session and could delay West Virginians from having representation,” the governor said in a statement.
What is also at stake with Byrd’s replacement is the status of the Wall Street reform bill. Like the unemployment extensions, it is only one vote short of passing.
Meanwhile, people are just a liittllle bit upset.
If you support the unemployed marching on their state senate headquarters, here’s a place to vote. Here’s a place to organize. If you just want to read stories of how people are suffering through this, this is a good web site.
Of course none of this will help out the 1.4 million who have exhausted their 99 weeks of unemployment, nor the 52% of unemployed who were never eligible for unemployment benefits.