Senate Votes to Advance Bill Further Extending COBRA Subsidy and Emergency Unemployment Insurance Programs
On Tuesday, the Senate voted to end debate on a $150 billion bill that would extend premium COBRA subsidies and emergency unemployment insurance benefits through December 31, 2010, as well as continue certain programs aimed at providing pension-funding relief. Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) introduced the American Workers, State and Business Relief Act of 2010 (pdf) as an amendment (S. Amt. 3336) in the nature of a substitute to the Tax Extender Act of 2009 (H.R. 4213). The tax extender bill has been serving as the vehicle to provide extensions to these and other expiring tax credit programs. The premium COBRA subsidy and emergency unemployment benefits were recently given one-month extensions through the Temporary Extension Act of 2010, signed into law on March 2.
With respect to the premium COBRA subsidy, the measure – in addition to extending the program until the end of the year – makes some clarifications to certain provisions of this program.
The measure also contains a section devoted entirely to pension-funding relief. According to a press release, (pdf) these provisions provide temporary, targeted funding relief for single employer and multiemployer pension plans that suffered significant losses in asset value due to the financial crisis in 2008.
In addition, the measure would extend until December 31, 2010, an employer wage credit for employees who are active duty members of the uniformed services. Specifically, the bill would extend the provision that provides eligible small business employers with a credit against income tax liability for a taxable year in an amount equal to 20 percent of the sum of differential wage payments to activated military reservists, up to $4,000, and be applicable to payments made after December 31, 2009.
A final vote on this bill is expected late Tuesday or Wednesday.