On February 25th, the House passed H.R. 4691, the Temporary Extension Act, by voice vote. This emergency legislation will extend a range of programs under suspension of the rules. Under the measure, all of these programs are extended for 30 days (through March 28), except for unemployment benefits, which are extended through April 5. After several days of Republican obstruction, the Senate passed the bill on March 2nd and the President signed the bill into law the same day.
These critical programs - to help those out of work, continue highway programs to boost employment this spring, stop cuts in doctors' Medicare payments that will limit health care for our seniors, and provide credit for small businesses to expand and hire new workers -- are scheduled to expire Sunday, February 28. These short-term extensions are necessary and critical as we take additional action to create jobs and get the American people back to work.
The following programs are being extended:
- Unemployment Insurance: Extends unemployment benefits, including the increased payouts and longer duration of benefits from the Recovery Act through April 5.
- Help with Health Insurance for Unemployed Workers (COBRA): Extends the COBRA health insurance subsidy for people who have lost their jobs through March 28.
- Surface Transportation Authorization: Authorizes the highway, highway safety, transit and motor carrier safety programs of the Department of Transportation through March 28.
- Medicare Physician Payments: Delays a scheduled 21.2% cut in Medicare physician payments to protect Medicare beneficiaries' access to physicians through March 28.
- Small Business Loans: Extends two temporary improvements to the Small Business Administration's loan guarantee program, raising the percentage of loan amounts that the SBA can guarantee and allowing SBA to waive or reduce loan fees through March 28.
- Flood Insurance: Extends the National Flood Insurance Program authorization through March 28.
- Satellite Television: Extends the compulsory copyright license used by satellite television providers through March 28.