The House passed the Senate version of the unemployment extension on Thursday, sending the bill to President Obama for his signature.

Obama has pledged to sign the bill as soon as it reaches his desk. The passage followed weeks of maneuvering and repeated attempts to pass the bill in the Senate, where it was originally attached to a package of extensions of expiring tax breaks. The House passed H.R. 4213, the Unemployment Compensation Extension Act, by a vote of 272 to 152 on Thursday. The legislation retroactively restores and extends the Emergency Unemployment Compensation and Extended Benefits programs through Nov. 30, 2010. The Senate passed the bill on Wednesday evening after overcoming a Republican filibuster on Tuesday (see Senate Passes Unemployment Extension).

Republicans had argued that the $33.9 billion cost of the bill should be paid for with unused stimulus funds or spending cuts, but Democrats insisted that the money be considered emergency spending without offsets.

“The House acted in May, but for six weeks Senate Republicans blocked unemployment insurance,” said Ways and Means Chairman Sander M. Levin, D-Mich., in a statement. “They stood not on the side of, but in the way of millions of Americans. During those six weeks over 2.5 million unemployed Americans exhausted their benefits and struggled to stay afloat while continuing to look for work in this difficult economy.”

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., hailed passage of the bill in the House. “This bill will finally provide the support American workers in Montana and across the country need to help them survive the toughest job market we’ve seen in decades,” he said. “These folks have worked hard all their lives, they will work again, and this bill will help them feed their families and remain in their homes as they continue to search for jobs.”

The bill will extend the Emergency Unemployment Compensation, which phased out at the end of May 2010. This program provides (depending on a state’s unemployment rate) up to 53 weeks of extended benefits. The bill would extend the EUC program through November 2010 and is retroactive. The bill will also extend the Extended Benefits program after 100 percent federal funding for the program phased out at the end of May 2010. This program provides up to an additional 13 to 20 weeks of benefits in certain states (i.e., 13 weeks for states at or above 6.5 percent unemployment and another seven weeks for states at or above 8 percent unemployment). The bill would extend full funding for the EB program through November 2010.

The bill also eliminates the penalty for part-time employment in the EUC program. The legislation coordinates EUC benefits with regular benefits by providing states with a number of options to allow EUC claimants to remain eligible for the EUC program when they become newly entitled to state unemployment compensation if switching to state benefits would reduce their weekly unemployment insurance check by at least $100 or 25 percent.

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