• Senate Approves COBRA Subsidies and Unemployment Benefits Extensions through 2010
  • March 26, 2010 | Authors: Garen E. Dodge; J. Aloysius Hogan; Michael J. Lotito
  • Law Firms: Jackson Lewis LLP - Reston Office ; Jackson Lewis LLP - San Francisco Office
  • By a 62-36 vote, the U.S. Senate has approved a tax extender package (H.R. 4213, Tax Extenders Act of 2009) that contains an extension of tens of billions of dollars in tax breaks and other provisions aimed at creating jobs.  The bill also provides extensions through December 31, 2010, of health insurance subsidies for unemployed workers under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) and emergency unemployment insurance benefits.

    Additionally, to encourage companies to continue their defined benefit pension programs, the bill provides for temporary relief from statutory pension funding obligations.  The bill also contains an assortment of tax breaks, program extensions, and other provisions.

    A temporary measure signed by President Barack Obama on March 2, 2010, extends COBRA subsidies to unemployed workers until March 31, 2010, and emergency UI benefits until April 5, 2010. 

    While the Senate bill is similar to the one passed by the House on December 9, 2009, by a vote of 241-181, the Senate-approved bill contains many substitutes and amendments the House has not considered.  According to new House Ways and Means Committee Chair Sander Levin, the next step for the bill may be a reconciliation conference between the Senate and House.  Creating a conference committee, of course, will prolong the process of the bill.