With major airports and the federal government shut down, effects from this week’s snow storm will linger beyond the time needed to dig out. The unemployed may be impacted by Congress’ snow days, unless lawmakers are able to rush through a bill extending their benefits.
That didn’t stop the kids in D.C. from having some fun though!
(left to right, ironically–Chuck Yer-Ass-Is Grassley, John Boohoo Boehner, Eric Token-Jew Cantor, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Rahm Emanuel, Harry Reid, while Mitch No-Chin McConnell, in front, looks on)
The US House of Representatives was supposed to have hearings on the Haiti recovery, Toyota accelerator pedal problems, the Federal Reserve’s exit strategy, and the dilemma facing Google over cyberhacking. All postponed because of the snow.
For the unemployed, it could be worse than just a missed hearing: Congress’ snow days may cost the jobless a week or two of additional unemployment checks and COBRA coverage unless lawmakers can rush through a jobs bill.
Vice President Joseph Biden planned to make a major speech on the Obama administration’s nuclear security agenda. The speech will now have to wait another week.
“The degree these snow days are so costly and a waste of money depends on whether the work will be made up,” says Karen Dynan, vice president for economic studies at the Brookings Institution in Washington. “As far as the people who make policy, it is highly likely the work will be made up. They will just work extra hours.”
According to the federal Office of Personnel Management, closing down the federal government, which shut again on Wednesday, costs about $100 million a day in lost productivity and related costs. So far, the government has been closed 3-1/2 days.
Ms. Dynan says there are several pieces of legislation that are going to be delayed because of Congress’s snow days.
For example, the US Senate is considering a jobs bill that extends additional unemployment and COBRA health benefits before they expire at the end of February.
The bill has already passed the House. Since Congress is on recess next week, this would give the lawmakers just one week to pass the proposed extensions.
“Because there are some lags built into the system, some workers may begin to get notices they have received their last benefits,” says Andrew Stettner of the National Employment Law Project in New York. “This could be one of the worst delays we have faced so far,” he says, estimating it might mean people’s benefit checks are delayed by a week or two once the legislation is passed.