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February 03, 2004
Democrats Continue Battle on OT Rules, Jobless Benefits

Democrats say they will attach amendments to pending legislation in order to reestablish a jobless-aid program and to block the Bush administration's proposed revisions to overtime rules for white-collar workers, the Chicago Tribune reports.

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Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York intends to introduce a measure to extend the federal government's program for unemployment benefits for workers who exhaust their benefits from states. Clinton's measure would extend the program by 13 weeks.

The federal program expired on December 20 and workers who exhaust their state benefits after that date would not be eligible for the federal aid. Democrats say it is important to continue the program because the economy is not adding jobs at a clip necessary to improve unemployment significantly. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that 375,000 unemployed workers will exhaust their benefits in January. Republicans contend that the economy has picked up steam and there is no need to extend the federal aid.

Democrats say they will use the same tactic to block a proposal to revise the overtime rules covering white-collar workers, the newspaper reports. A similar attempt failed in 2003, when House-Senate negotiators dropped an amendment to block the changes.

The Labor Department has said it will issue final rules for overtime by the end of March.


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