House Passes Unemployment Benefits Extension, Obama Will Sign

Congress has passed the unemployment benefits extension that has been held up in the Senate for weeks due to a filibuster. The House of Representatives approved the measure by a 272 to 152 vote on Thursday, which sends the bill to President Barack Obama’s desk for his signature.

“Unemployment benefits protect those who are have lost their jobs through no fault of their own but would lead to more jobs, higher wages, and a stronger economy for all Americans,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif), according to NPR. “The money will be spent immediately on necessity, injecting demand into the economy, creating jobs.”

The bill will restore unemployment benefits to nearly 2.5 million people who have gone without work for over six months or more. These benefits ran dry seven weeks ago, while Senate Republicans and conservative Democrats filibustered the measure in defense of growing deficits. The bill does have a steep price tag, adding $34 billion to the national debt. The Senate finally voted in favor of the extension by a 59-39 vote on Wednesday night.

The bill finalized today will act retroactively; meaning those who have gone without payments over the seven-week period will receive compensation. After Obama puts his signature on the bill – which he says he will as soon as it gets to his desk – the payments will start flowing, possibly as early as next week.