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Logjam break means more Senate funds

Nancy Marshall-Genzer Mar 3, 2010

Logjam break means more Senate funds

Nancy Marshall-Genzer Mar 3, 2010


Steve Chiotakis: President Obama signed a bill that extends unemployment benefits and gives those who are jobless subsidies for health insurance. Senators were able to get a bill through after a big logjam delayed the measure for days. Marketplace’s Nancy Marshall Genzer is with us live from our Washington studio this morning. Hi Nancy.

Nancy Marshall Genzer: Good morning.

Chiotakis: Tell us how we got here.

Marshall Genzer: Well in the Senate, one senator can hold everything up. And in this case, that senator was Republican Jim Bunning. He delayed a vote on funding that would extend unemployment benefits and pay workers on federal highway construction projects. But Bunning gave in yesterday and the Senate then passed a $10 billion stopgap bill.

Chiotakis: And Nancy, what was Senator Bunning’s gripe?

Marshall Genzer: Well, he wanted to force Democrats to find ways to actually pay for the bill so it wouldn’t add to the federal deficit.

Chiotakis: And who was affected by all this?

Marshall Genzer: Well, unemployment benefits expired Sunday, and hundreds of thousands of Americans faced the loss of unemployment checks that of course help them pay the bills while they look for new jobs. They also temporarily lost federal funding for their Cobra insurance, and that’s insurance that you can buy when you lose your job. But the federal money is flowing again now, thanks to the stopgap bill the Senate passed, and President Obama has signed it. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says the money is desperately needed:

Harry Reid: If there were ever an emergency, this is it. It’s not about the legislative process or Senate rules, it’s about the rights of individuals to survive in America.

Chiotakis: But this is just a temporary solution though Nancy, right?

Marshall Genzer: Right, it only lasts for a month. And now the Senate is getting to work on a $100 billion bill that would extend unemployment benefits through the end of the year.

Chiotakis: Marketplace’s Nancy Marshall-Genzer reporting from Washington. Nancy, thanks.

Marshall Genzer: You’re welcome.

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