In order for Unemployment Benefits to be extended, a bill must be passed in the Senate, passed in the House, and signed by the President. Congress is once again on break this week, but here is where things stand when they return on March 24. In the Senate we have a bi-partisan Unemployment Benefits Extension (UBE) with barely enough votes to clear the Republican filibuster. The UBE is for five months and would be retroactive to December 28, 2013. Missed payments would be paid in a lump sum and benefits would end again on May 31, unless Congress extends them again. It should pass by the end of the week, if we keep up the pressure. (see Action Section)
In the House there a discharge petition signed by over 190 Democrats but no Republicans. A discharge petition allows a majority of the members of the House to call a vote even when the Speaker refuses to bring it to the floor. Actual discharge petition is here: http://clerk.house.gov/113/lrc/pd/petitions/DisPet0008.xml
Speaker Boehner is on record as refusing to allow a vote on a UBE, but he likes to tease the people. His latest quote on this issue: Asked Friday by The Associated Press what he thought of the Senate compromise, Speaker Boehner said, "You mean the one that can't be implemented?" Asked if this comment meant he didn't like the measure or that he wouldn't bring it to the House floor for debate, he said, "I didn't say that." How does this jerk get elected over and over again?
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/house-democrats-will-try-to-force-unemployment-benefits-vote/ (good reporting on the House, but out-of-date for Senate)
ACTION SECTION - Even though Congress is not in session, their phones are still answered. Use this Toll Free, 24-hour number seven times and ask for the indicated Representatives.
Senate: Please include the following text in your comments: (For this call, I am making a special request for politeness. Let me know if anyone is rude to you, as this is important for developing future strategy) "Hello, I am with the Activist Alliance for the Unemployed and I just wanted to thank Senator _____ for supporting the bipartisan Reed-Heller Amendment and to urge him to pass this Unemployment Benefits Extension."
Targets are: Senator Portman and Senator Kirk
House: For these calls, politeness is at your discretion, the ultimate goal is to rattle them so much they press Boehner to hold a vote. (We are not calling Speaker Boehner directly because we know he is used to taking the "heat" for his party, he has not caved to intense pressure for over a year on the immigration issue! We will focus on the twenty House Republicans who most often vote against their party. These guys may not be used to getting hundreds of calls from angry constituents, so hopefully we can use that to our advantage.)
Please include the following text in your comments: "Hello, I am with the Activist Alliance for the Unemployed and I just want to advise Representative ________ to Demand a Vote on a UBE if he wants to keep his job. Our group is starting a new meme for the month of March: If the House does not pass a UBE by the end of the March, then we are going to rename April 1st "November Fools Day" because everyone of them is up for re-election. (Insert rant)"
Walter Jones North Carolina
Christopher Gibson New York
Justin Amash Michigan
Thomas Massie Kentucky
Mike Fitzpatrick Pennsylvania