November 04,2009

Press Contact:

Dan Virkstis (Baucus), (202) 224-4515
Regan Lachapelle (Reid), (202) 224-2939
Jennifer Berlin (Reed), (202) 224-4642
Colleen Murray (Shaheen), (202) 224-8028

Senators Praise Approval of Baucus-Reid Legislation For Out-of-Work Americans, Tax Relief for Straining Businesses, Measures for Military Families and a Stable Housing Market

Worker, Homeownership and Business Assistance Act Passes Senate

Washington, DC –Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) lauded Senate passage today by a vote of 98 to 0 of legislation to extend unemployment insurance benefits to out-of-work Americans in every state by up to 14 weeks and extend benefits for up to six weeks in states with unemployment levels over eight and a half percent. The bill extends help to nearly two million jobless Americans whose benefits are set to expire by the end of the year and is fully paid for by an extension of the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) through June 30, 2011. Other co-sponsors of the Worker, Homeownership and Business Assistance Act of 2009 include a bipartisan group of 32 senators.

“With 15 million Americans still unemployed and vying for just three million available jobs, we did the right thing today by passing this bill and doing it in a fiscally-responsible way.    Today, families that depend on this help to pay their rent and stay in their home are a step closer to getting assistance. Today we acted, and not a moment too soon,” Baucus said. “Today, we gave unemployed Americans the chance they need to get back on their feet, get through this tough time and get working again.”

“Today’s passage of this important measure will provide critical relief for the thousands of Nevadans and millions of Americans who have been struggling to find work in a difficult economy in recent months,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said. “Not only does this legislation provide long-awaited assistance to out-of-work Americans, but it will also help to strengthen our domestic housing market with the extension of Homebuyer Tax Credit and give well-deserved support to America’s military families through the Military Homeowner Assistance Program. While I’m disappointed that today’s action was delayed almost an entire month because of stalling tactics by the Republicans, I’m heartened that we are finally able to provide help to the many families who continue to struggle around the nation.”

“After weeks of Republican delay, I am pleased we were finally able to pass this extension of unemployment benefits and tax cuts, which will provide a boost to our economy and real economic relief to millions of Americans still struggling under the weight of the Bush recession,” Sen. Jack Reed said. “Today’s overwhelming victory demonstrates we never lacked the 60 votes to move to cloture; what we lacked was unanimous consent from our Republican colleagues so the bill could move forward. In delaying this bill, Senate Republicans denied unemployment benefits to thousands of middle-class families and millions of dollars in economic aid to their own states. Those who think impeding economic recovery and derailing health care reform serves the interests of the American people are sorely mistaken. The American people want progress and results. Today we gave them both.”

“Many of our nation’s unemployed workers have been anxiously waiting for these benefits to come through, and I’m happy to report that relief is on the way. I am proud of the bill that passed the Senate today – it will help nearly 2 million Americans who are still unable to find work, protect small businesses struggling in this challenging economic climate, and stimulate economic activity to help create jobs and grow our economy. Our work to stabilize the economy and create jobs does not stop here, but we took an important step today to do the right thing for American workers and their families,” Shaheen said.

The Baucus-Reid substitute amendment also extends the first-time homebuyer and net operating loss carryback tax relief provisions. The homebuyer tax credit extension, developed in cooperation with Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Senator Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), continues the $8,000 first-time homebuyer credit through April 30, 2010, allowing purchasers under a binding contract an additional 60 days to close after that date. It also provides a $6,500 credit to new purchasers who have lived in their current residence for five years or more.

The net operating loss carryback (NOL) provision is expanded to allow U.S. companies of every to carry back losses incurred in either 2008 or 2009 against income earned in any of the five prior years, limited to 50 percent of the taxpayer’s income in the fifth year. The NOL carryback provision reflects legislation introduced by Senators Baucus and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) earlier this year. Additionally, the bill includes a provision put forward by Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) that would make payments under the Military Homeowner Assistance Program (HAP) tax-exempt for military personnel.

Baucus continued, “This bill also includes important tax relief for military families and businesses, including the NOL carryback provision, to breathe life back into strained companies, the homebuyer tax credit extension to shore up a weakened housing market and tax relief on housing for our nation’s military families. Millions of American businesses and families will benefit from our action in joining together to pass this vital legislation. ”

The Baucus tax relief amendment is offset in part by a delay in implementation of worldwide allocation of interest. An additional offset would increase the penalties on companies that fail to file a partnership or S corporation federal tax return.

The Worker, Homeownership and Business Assistance Act includes improvements to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to allow families receiving the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps, to remain eligible while receiving an additional $25 per week in unemployment insurance benefits. The bill also updates the Unemployment Insurance Modernization provision in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to allow victims of sexual assault who have left their job to be eligible for benefits under the “compelling family reasons” clause. Additionally, the legislation specifies railroad workers facing expiring unemployment benefits would be eligible for additional weeks.