The U.S. Senate passed H.R. 4691, the Temporary Extension Act of 2010, on March 2, which essentially ends debate on a $150 billion bill that would extend premium COBRA subsidies and emergency unemployment insurance benefits through the end of the year.

The Act also furthers and clarifies some programs providing pension-funding relief. The provisions provide temporary, targeted funding relief for single employer and multiemployer pension plans that suffered significant losses in asset value due to the financial crisis in 2008.

An employer wage credit for employees who are active duty members of the uniformed services is also extended until the end of 2010. H.R. 4691 extends the provision providing eligible small business employers with a credit against income tax liability for a taxable year in an amount equal to 20% of the sum of differential wage payments to activated military reservists, up to $4,000, and be applicable to payments made after December 31, 2009.

These temporary extensions of the COBRA subsidy and unemployment benefits are intended to give Congress more time to consider legislation to extend these programs through 2010. Under H.R. 4213, a bill the Senate is debating at present, both the COBRA subsidy program and unemployment benefits would be extended through the close of 2010.

The period during which applications for Federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation can be filed has also been extended (now to April 5, 2010). April 5 is also the new end date by which individuals may qualify for the Federal Additional Compensation, the extra $25 weekly benefit amount on state and federal unemployment compensation. Also, 100% federal reimbursement for weeks of regular federal extended benefit payments has been extended to that new April 5 end date.