House clears $18 billion unemployment benefits extension

The House easily passed Thursday night an $18 billion measure that extends unemployment benefits for jobless workers through June 2. 

The measure, passed earlier tonight by the Senate, skipped the House Rules Committee and went straight to the House floor, gaining approval by a 289-112 vote. 

The bill, delayed by a stalemate in the Senate, deals with several pending issues. 

The measure retroactively extends unemployment benefits through June 2. The bill provides for the 65 percent subsidy on COBRA health insurance for anyone who loses their job through the end of May, prevents a 21 percent Medicare payment reduction, extends 2009 poverty guidelines through May, extends national flood insurance, the satellite television copyright license and two small business loan programs, all through May 31. 

The measure also provides compensation for federal employees furloughed March 1 and 2 because of a lapse in expenditure authority of the Highway Trust Fund. 

"Holding hundreds of thousands of unemployed Americans hostage to score political points is reprehensible," said Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. "I am glad we overcame this political gamesmanship to send this bill to President Obama for his signature."