How long for bill to take effect? (unemployment extension)

Wondering specifically about the new unemployment extension bill. It just cleared the Senate, and now the House and Senate versions have to be reconciled. Assuming the vote on that goes through by Monday, it will then go to the President right? And then he has ten days to sign it?

Assuming both votes are yay, what are the best, worst, and most realistic case scenarios for when the bill will actually be passed? And assuming it gets passed, will there be any further delays or obstacles to when people actually start receiving their unemployment money?

It will likely take effect immediately. Worst case is 30 days.


I would lean toward immediately effective.

As Duckster notes, this was the final vote needed – as the OP is aware the House and Senate must pass identical bills, but in this instance the House passed it first, the Senate passed a different version, and then today the House accepted the Senate amendments so the thing doesn’t have to go to conference and be passed by both Chambers yet again.

The OP is correct that the president typically has 10 days (not counting Sundays) after a bill reaches his desk to sign it, although, so long as a recess isn’t pending, it would then go into effect without his signature at the end of that period, absent a veto. However, it typically takes some few days for a bill passed by both Chambers to go through all the formalities so it can be presented to the president. Given the nature of this bill, it appears that they’re prioritizing it so it can get put into effect ASAP.

As for the effective date, the text of the bill says it shall be treated as if this was originally included in the 2008 Supplemental Appropriation that first extended the benefits last year, so I expect it should be immediately effective. That said, I did hear just a very quick mention on the radio today that there were some complex reporting requirements in the bill such that states might take a little while to get ramped up to speed. Given that tomorrow is Friday, it’s probably not a bad idea to call the unemployment office tomorrow and see what their plans are.


The bill specifies who is eligible, when, and for how much… when it actually passes is irrelevant.

There was wordage on the website in NY implying retroactive payments, but the new page implies there won’t be retroactive payments.

Nevada is acting as if the bill will pass and be retroactive.

Signed Friday morning.


Says it outright:

Yes that’s what I was referring to with the “now it says” part. Previously it had instructions to keep claiming benefits each week, implying they’d be be available once the legislation passed. Also previously retroactive payments had been available last time there was an extension.

In general, each bill has language in it that specifies when it will take effect. And it varies for different bills.

There are some common dates. Here in Minnesota, most legislation says that it takes effect on August 1st following the adjournment of the Legislature. Some bills specify immediately (at one minute after midnight on the day signed by the Governor or overridden by the Legislature) – for example, disaster relief bills. Tax bills often specify January 1st of the next year, because it’s easiest for everyone if the tax rules don’t change in the middle of the year.

Sometimes the date is set for political reasons. The credit card reforms were set to not take effect for a couple of years, to give the credit card companies time to increase their rates & fees before that (IMO). Some of the proposed Health Care bills didn’t go into effect until after the next Presidential election (leaving open the possibility of a new President who could sign a repeal before it ever goes into effect). I don’t know what the date is on the bill that passed the House.

Can Congress provide that legislation will come into force on a date to be set by the President?

As is often the case, no in theory, yes in practice. The president’s responsibility as to the effective date of laws is that he either signs them or doesn’t. However, most legislation of significant effect delegates power to the Executive Branch agencies for implementation. It’s not uncommon for a law to say a certain provision will go into effect on X date, unless the Secretary of Whatever certifies that, for reasons authorized in the statute, it should be delayed. Alternatively, you can have a law which operates in one way at the start but, if the problem at issue gets worse, other, more aggressive measures kick in. (This is one of the proposals in the current health care debate – the so-called “trigger” option. This being GQ, I shall refrain from saying how stupid it is. Whoops!) And those would typically be initiated by a (probably statutorily mandated) report from an agency.

In some cases the discretion given to the agency is extremely limited – such as a requirement that you measure, oh, let’s say air quality and, if it’s above X, you must immediately do Y. Other times it’d be much broader, for instance a statutory mandate that the military do this and this unless “in his discretion, the Secretary of Defense determines that it would have a deleterious effect on national security.”

So to headline it – the effective date of a statute is specified in the statute (or, if not, it’s effective immediately upon enactment). But the functional effective date of particular substantive provisions of the statute can be conditioned on agency action. And while the specified agency actions can sometimes be merely ministerial, in other cases they can be exercises of significant discretion.

(This discussion assumes that the agency heads will do what the president tells them to do, which is roughly true most of the time, but precisely true none of the time.)


Thanks for the info, Cliffy.