Senate addresses unemployment benefits, homebuyer aid

Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Senate majority leader, says he expects the Senate this week to approve extending employment aid an additional 14 weeks for those who have exhausted their benefits, according to The New York Times.

Unemployed people in states where the jobless rate exceeds 8.5 percent would receive up to 20 weeks of aid; Reid says there are 1 million people in the U.S. eligible for such aid.

The measure also would extend the $8,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers, which is scheduled to expire at the end of November; the program would instead be valid through April 30, 2010. People who have lived in their current home for at least five years also would become eligible for a new $6,500 tax credit when they buy a new home. Income limits for qualifying homebuyers would increase to $225,000 for couples and $125,000 for individuals.

Additionally, the Senate plan would allow businesses to offset profits during the past five years with current losses, possibly reducing companies' tax liability and freeing up some capital. This has been met with some opposition in the House, but Democrats believe the overall package will move quickly through the House once the Senate acts.

The bill has been delayed for weeks as Republicans and Democrats have been at odds. Republicans say they opposed the bill's progress because Democrats have refused to allow them to offer their proposed changes. When moving to cut off debate, Reid also barred any Republican amendments.

The Senate plans to vote tonight to cut off debate on the bill.

Date : 11/2/2009