Legislation to extend unemployment insurance benefits for more than a million long-term jobless workers and to ease Social Security disability benefit procedures advanced in the House Ways and Means Committee yesterday.
By voice vote, the committee reported a Democratic-sponsored bill to extend for 45 days the special program giving extra weeks of unemployment benefits to workers who have exhausted regular benefits.
As approved by a subcommittee, the bill would have prolonged for nine months with substantial improvements an existing extra-benefit program that expires Oct. 1.
At a cost of about $2.7 billion, it would have provided up to 16 weeks of extra benefits to some workers in high unemployment states, and up to 8 weeks to others who have already received several extensions of benefits, for as much as 73 weeks of combined benefits for some workers.
Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dan Rostenkowski (D-Ill.) cut the extension to 45 days, reportedly to make sure the popular bill would come up again in November and could be used as a rider to help pass a less popular bill, such as a tax increase.
Amendments were completed on the Social Security bill, also sponsored by Democrats and also going beyond what the administration wants, and a vote is expected today. It would require the government to show medical improvement before removing people from the disability rolls, and to continue a person's benefits until an appeal has been decided by an administrative law judge.