Washington Report

Updates from Capitol Hill

Congress Passes Jobless Benefits Bill

0605_unemploymentThe House of Representatives passed the Worker, Homeownership and Business Assistance Act of 2009 with a bipartisan vote of 403 to 12 on Thursday. The Senate passed its version of the bill on November 4.

The legislation provides an additional 14 weeks unemployment insurance for jobless workers in every state, and 20 weeks for workers in states with unemployment levels above 8.5%. It also extends the $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit to buyers with a binding contract before April 30, 2010. The current credit is scheduled to expire November 30. In addition, the provision has been expanded to include individuals and families with incomes of $125,000 and $225,000 respectively and makes a $6500 credit available to buyers who’ve been in their current residence for five or more consecutive years out of the last eight years.

“The American people deserve and have earned this help,” said Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Washington), chair of the House Ways and Means Income Security and Family Support Subcommittee. “We cannot forget that we’re not yet out of the woods especially Americans who are struggling to find a job in an economy where six people are competing for every available job.” According to McDermott, in some cases 500 people will respond to an ad for one position. If he had his druthers, he told reporters during a press conference, the unemployment benefits would be extended until the end of 2010.

A provision in the bill to help struggling businesses would allow them to use net operating losses from 2008 or 2009 to offset profits from five previous years, up from two years. Small businesses that have already elected to carry back 2008 under the Recovery Act may also carry back their 2009 losses.

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