Bill aims to expand benefits for the unemployed |

Bill aims to expand benefits for the unemployed

Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON -People who are out of work for long stretches would get expanded unemployment benefits through the end of the year under a bill Democratic lawmakers plan to pass next week.

The bill would also extend, for a year, about 50 popular tax cuts that expired in January. The bill would be paid for, in part, by tax increases on investment managers and some U.S.-based multinational companies.

House leaders said they plan to vote on the bill early next week, leaving just a few days for the Senate to act before Congress goes on a weeklong vacation for Memorial Day. House leaders had planned to vote this week, but they were still waiting for some cost estimates, and a few issues were unresolved.

Delays in extending the tax breaks have left thousands of businesses unable to plan for their tax liabilities. Delays in passing a long-term extension of emergency unemployment benefits have forced thousands of laid-off workers to live month to month with no certainty of income.

Unemployment benefits for many will start to run out June 2, unless Congress acts. The bill would extend unemployment benefits for up to 99 weeks in many states, at a cost of $47 billion.

Laid-off workers would continue to get subsidies to buy health insurance through the COBRA program through the end of the year, at a cost of $7.8 billion. States would get $24 billion to states to help cover Medicaid costs.

The bill started as a one-year extension of popular tax breaks, but it has grown into a grab bag of unfinished business lawmakers hope to complete before Memorial Day. The overall cost of the bill will top $150 billion and could approach $200 billion.