House lines up second vote on unemployment benefits

Those Democrats are from 14 different states — half of which recorded double-digit unemployment in May — Mississippi (11.4 percent), Alabama (10.8), Illinois (10.8), Tennessee (10.4), North Carolina (10.3), Georgia (10.2) and Indiana (10). New Jersey is in line with the national average of 9.7 percent and Idaho's rate is 9 percent. Colorado is at 8 percent, Arkansas at 7.7, Maryland at 7.2 and Virginia at 7.1 percent. 

Herseth Sandlin's state has one of the lowest rates of unemployment at 4.6 percent. 

The approximately $35 billion six-month extension appears to be two votes short of the 60 it needs to pass in the Senate.

Democrats want to move the extension before Congress adjourns later this week for the week-long July 4 recess.

The legislative week has been further tightened by the death of long-time Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), who will lie in state in the Senate chamber for most of Thursday. 

Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson (Neb.) said Tuesday that if the bill isn't with other spending cuts or tax increases, it won't get his vote. 

With the Senate missing Byrd, three Republicans would need to back the measure to ensure passage. 

So far, Sen. Olympia Snowe (Maine) is the only Republican who has voiced support for passing an extension without offsetting its cost. 

Ohio Sen. George Voinovich (R) said he's unlikely to vote yes if the bill is not offset.

If the House passes a bill, the Senate will have one shot at sending it to President Barack Obama's desk. Any changes would require the lower chamber to consider the measure again. The House is expected to complete its business by Thursday night. 

Without action, 1.2 million people are expected to lose their extended benefits by Wednesday. That number will rise to at least 2 million by July 10, some right after finishing up their state-funded 26 weeks, before Congress returns from its weeklong recess, according to Labor Department figures. 

Benefits expired June 1. 

A total of 54 percent of workers exhaust all of their unemployment insurance benefits, up to 99 weeks in states with high levels of unemployment. 

Americans receive an average of $304 a week, providing about $6.7 billion a month in economic stimulus, according to the National Employment Law Project, a group studying the issue.  

Those who have exhausted their benefits could potentially be without their weekly checks until the middle of July if the Senate can't reach an agreement. 

The House bill under consideration extends unemployment benefits through November but will not include the extra $25 included in checks as part of last year's stimulus bill. 

If Congress is unable to extend benefits, all 50 states would lose emergency funding that provides between 34 and 53 additional weeks on top of the state-provided 26 weeks. 

Overall statistics on unemployment benefits are staggering — 46 percent of the 15 million unemployed Americans have been out of work for at least six months, with an average person jobless for 34.4 weeks, the highest in history, according to NELP and Labor Department statistics. 

Under the extension, unemployed workers can receive up to 99 weeks of benefits based on the state's unemployment rate. Every state is affected if Congress can't resolve the issue before recess begins. If a measure isn't passed, lawmakers wouldn't take it up again until at least July 12, when they return from the weeklong break.