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Extended benefits bill passes House

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House of Representatives has passed legislation to extend unemployment benefits to jobless workers in Mississippi and expand a homebuyers’ tax credit that was set to expire Nov. 30, 2009.

U.S. Representative Gregg Harper (R–Miss.) voted for the measure. He said, “The impact of this legislation is that payments will be turned over quickly giving folks the ability to use the monies immediately, which should have a stimulative effect on our economy.”

The Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2009 (H.R. 3548), passed by the House of Representatives Sept. 22, 2009, extended payments for 13 weeks to states where unemployment exceeded 8.5 percent. On Nov. 4, the Senate approved the measure 98-0 allowing workers in all 50 states to draw benefits with an additional six weeks of payments going to states where unemployment rates exceed 8.5 percent. Mississippi would receive the full 20 weeks of benefits due to the current 8.8 percent jobless rate.

The Senate also extended the $8,000 homebuyer tax credit through April 30, 2010 with 60 days to close on a home. The amended bill added a new $6,500 credit for present homeowners as long as they have lived in their current home for five consecutive years. Raised from the original income cap, individuals can earn $125,000 and $225,000 for married couples. Homes that sell for more than $800,000 are not eligible for the homebuyer credit.

The amended bill cleared the House of Representatives by a vote of 403–12 and now heads to the President’s desk to await his signature.

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