Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 30, 2015

Bipartisan Unemployment Extension Deal Reached

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Five Senate Democrats and five Republicans unveiled a deal on extending expired unemployment insurance benefits for five months, which should be enough to overcome a GOP filibuster and get the package out of the Senate later this month.

The proposal is paid for using a combination of offsets that includes extending “pension smoothing” provisions from the 2012 highway bill and extending customs user fees through 2024, according to a release.

The bill also includes an additional offset allowing single-employer pension plans to prepay their flat rate premiums to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

The group led by Jack Reed, D-R.I., and Dean Heller, R-Nev., also includes Republicans Susan Collins of Maine, Rob Portman of Ohio, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mark S. Kirk of Illinois. Portman and Kirk had voted to filibuster an unemployment extension in February, with Democrats coming up one vote short.

The other Democrats involved are Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Richard J. Durbin of Illinois. The plan will allow retroactive payments going back to Dec. 28, when Congress allowed emergency unemployment benefits to expire. And it will prohibit people making more than $1 million from obtaining benefits, among other provisions.

Collins said she was pleased that the agreement was reached and expects Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to tee it up for votes after next week’s recess.

“I’m pleased we have reached an agreement that will attract a sufficient number of Republican votes to provide a five month extension, retroactively that is fully paid for,” she said.

Reid had earlier expressed optimism for an unemployment deal and hoped the Senate would be able to pass it once they return.

Here’s the full announcement:

U.S. Senators Reach Bipartisan Agreement to Restore Emergency Unemployment Insurance for Five Months
New Reed-Heller emergency UI agreement supported by 5 leading Democrats and 5 leading Republicans

WASHINGTON, DC – Seeking to boost the economy and provide relief for the more than 2 million job seeking Americans who have lost emergency unemployment insurance coverage since December 28, 2013, a group of 10 U.S. Senators led by Jack Reed (D-RI) and Dean Heller (R-NV) today announced an agreement to reauthorize emergency unemployment insurance (UI) benefits for 5 months. The bill is cosponsored by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Rob Portman (R-OH), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Mark Kirk (R-IL), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Dick Durbin (D-IL). The plan will allow for retroactive payments to eligible beneficiaries going back to December 28th.

This new legislation seeks to strengthen the U.S. economy while providing vulnerable job seekers and their families with a vital lifeline as they continue to look for work. The proposal is fully paid-for using a combination of offsets that includes extending “pension smoothing” provisions from the 2012 highway bill (MAP-21), which were set to phase out this year, and extending customs user fees through 2024. The bill also includes an additional offset allowing single-employer pension plans to prepay their flat rate premiums to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC).

Further, the legislation includes a provision modeled on Senator Tom Coburn’s (R-OK) and Jon Tester’s (D-MT) language that ends unemployment insurance payments to any individual whose adjusted gross income in the preceding year was $1 million or more. According to 2010 income tax data, there were 0.03% of filers that earned over $1 million and received some form of UI at either the state or federal level. This provision received unanimous support in the Senate when it was voted on in 2011.

The legislative proposal also includes language championed by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) to strengthen reemployment and eligibility assessment (REA) and ReEmployment Services (RES) programs. In an effort to help get job seekers back into the workforce, individuals receiving emergency unemployment compensation will be eligible for enhanced, personalized assessments and referrals to reemployment services when they begin their 27th week of UI (Tier I) and 55th week of UI (Tier III).

“There are a lot of good people looking for work and I am pleased we’re finally able to reach a strong, bipartisan consensus to get them some help. Restoring this much needed economic lifeline will help job seekers, boost our economy, and provide a little certainty to families, businesses, and the markets that Congress is capable of coming together to do the right thing. It has now been 75 days since UI expired and it needs to be renewed. We’re not at the finish line yet, but this is a bipartisan breakthrough. I am grateful to Senator Heller for his leadership and for my many colleagues on both sides of the aisle who worked constructively to find a way forward. I join Rhode Islanders and millions of people across the country in calling on Congress to pass this essential, common sense legislation without further delay and take additional action to help save and create jobs,” said Senator Jack Reed, noting that about 8,000 Rhode Islanders have lost their UI coverage since the benefits were cutoff on December 28th and more than $20 million worth of unemployment checks have gone undistributed in Rhode Island as a result of UI’s expiration.

“These past few months have been extremely difficult for thousands of Nevadans who have been unsure of how to pay the bills or feed their families. I am so glad that both Democrats and Republicans have come together on a proposal that will finally give Americans certainty about their unemployment benefits. This deal extends these important benefits for five months, pays for them, and brings buy-in from both sides of the aisle. I am grateful to Senator Reed and to Senators Collins, Portman, Murkowski and Kirk for the determination and hard work involved in order to reach this point,” said Senator Dean Heller. As many as 21,000 Nevadans have lost their unemployment insurance benefits since they were cut off in December.

Now that the bill has been introduced, it must pass a 60-vote threshold to overcome a filibuster. Reed and Heller expressed confidence that they would have more than enough votes to advance the measure in the U.S. Senate.


Comments (62)

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  1. eric griffin

    March 13, 2014
    5:25 p.m.

    About damn time go take a vacation and then change your minds ….a holes

  2. kasia54

    March 13, 2014
    5:33 p.m.

    If this dies in the House, there will be hell to pay for the Republicans for sure. A commenter on another blog said that they believe there are enough stupid people out there to still pull the “R-lever”. I have to say that in no time in recent history has there been such a huge Republican voter base that has openly expressed their need to NOT vote Republican any longer because those they hired to protect and represent them, let them down. It’s not only Democrats and Independents who are unemployed! The way the R’s have callously ignored their suffering constituents will be remembered at the polls in 2014 and 2016. Don’t underestimate this new breed of educated unemployed. They are legion and persuasive with family and friends. We are speaking of MILLIONS and their family and friends. So many R’s seem to want to dismiss this based on history. Well, this is an unprecedented event. Do the R’s really want to test that in 2014 and 2016?

    • vito cardone

      March 14, 2014
      8:48 a.m.

      well said kasia54, and it is not like I hope this does die in the house for the purposes of mid term elections. I will exchange giving the needy unemployment extension over their midterm elections,needless to say their still in big trouble in 2014 no matter what but if this does die in the house,that would be the final nail in their coffin in 2014.And I have reason to believe our pres Obama will eventually sign executive order on this..While Obama is out to help America,the republicans want to play politics,but lets hope right now the right thing is done and get this bill passed so people will get their needed unemployment extension.

  3. CE

    March 13, 2014
    5:56 p.m.

    According to me it’s all a joke, both democrats and republicans
    are playing games. For over 10 years I voted democrat, but after taking a step
    back looking at our current political scenery, I made a gruesome discovery, we
    the people are being played both ways. Without a single doubt in my mind the first
    joke in the congress is inevitably Sen. Harry Reid. I mean his games so far got
    him to evade for a longtime but today there are no more ways for him to weasel
    his way out and I will elaborate: Allowing congress to recess several times
    over under false pretexts, arguing that republicans will have a change of
    heart, and we’ve all seen where that led us. Adding to that he takes upon
    himself to post on twitter a matter of a very high importance such as
    unemployment to make false statement such as we will vote on it next week. You
    have got to be kidding, really I mean if it is that much important to him why
    don’t he post his last salary or his last place of vacation, I mean I truly
    want to know where he is going and how fun he is having while American are getting
    kicked out of their homes for non-payment of the last rent, or even worse when
    a family of 4 are dying from hunger. Oh I forgot it’s not his problem…. Next time
    you need to be re-elected just don’t count on their votes I mean it’s not going
    to be their issue as well, knowing that they’re dead.

    I put a lot of faith in this man, and my expectations were
    so high, I don’t even want to start talking about the disappointment, my only
    comment: it was a hell of long drop, when I realized who truly he was.

    Priorities, I’d advise that congress change theirs. Over the
    ages, the same question keeps popping up again and again is America “the Police”
    of the world. After looking back at the declaration of independence one can
    understand ones motives, but how far do we have to go that’s what bothers me,
    understand me I’m all for broadening and extending liberties, but is it fair
    for our government to sacrifice our own people and lend a hand to a foreign
    country that suffer the same fate as the unemployed??

    They certainly have one thing in common, if nothing is done “they”
    both will eventually die. Just how many head of household will have to kill
    themselves, or mom would have to drive their whole progeny in the ocean in fear
    that hunger takes them away before her own eyes…. Before our leaders do
    anything. Many men have been strip from their manhood just by not being able to
    provide basic necessities for their love ones, one of my correspondence actually
    mentioned that he was going to do a last effort by taking life insurance on him
    then right after kill himself so that his 2 daughters would have something to
    eat. This is what America have reduced their sons to.

    They will die in Ukraine if nothing is done and no one would
    want to have that in their conscience, but right here in America, just right
    beyond our own backyard, people are suffering and our leaders are still under
    the illusion that everything is ok, you could literally come to this
    conclusion, they’ll parade unemployed folks in the white house or even the
    sacred arena that is the Congress just for their own amusement. Truth be told every
    time that ever happen, nothing was ever done. So someone tells me, what was the
    purpose of this whole circus????

    Time and time again American Leaders demonstrated that they
    are more worried about how the world is going to view them from outside and not
    from within their borders, and Obama doesn’t fall short. As a black man and not that it rhymes with
    Obama as others might assume, but I supported him all along the way. Hell I was
    even one of the people making up excuses for him every time his incompetence
    and lack of ability to govern was brought up, I ‘m not saying to go republican
    but I’m sure as hell that Hilary was going to be a better president with bigger
    “balls”. America needs a president with Heart, and no one better than Hilary
    fits that bill. It’s not Obama’s fault if people can’t find a job, and GOD
    knows that he tried and that’s all he did “tried” and hope for the best. Because
    his compassion didn’t lay there. The only thing he cares about more than
    America is his daughters, so he passed a bill that would help women, and thanks
    to GOD I have a mother and 5 sisters so I can relate to that but it wasn’t just
    a priority then. Speaker J. Boehner grew up in a farm, and we know just how
    much he is deeply involved in the farm bill, matter of fact, it you were to
    scream out loud farm bill when the Speaker passes by he’ll turn around as if
    you just called him by his nickname. My point is none of these people with
    connect with us because they haven’t experienced it themselves. Arguably Hilary
    would, not that she was unemployed once but only because her husband has a far
    better record than Obama but also she is naturally born with that maternalistic
    ability with that being said I truly think Michelle would be a far better
    president than her husband if given the same opportunity.

    Of Course that alone wouldn’t give her the birth right to be
    our next president, speaking about Hilary but what I’ll add next might give you
    something to think about: She is the only bad among the worst. In this time we
    need a president who can make a stand. The economy is well off but still
    fragile, our foreign policy needs improvement, I don’t even want to mentioned
    the immigration, where Obama excelled at he was formally given the title as
    champion for the number of deportations his administration orchestrated during
    his tenure as president. Also let’s not forget that Hilary has what it takes to
    lead intellectually and socially looking at her records. If I were Hilary I
    would definitely drop Obama support during the next election, or better I’d use
    his weaknesses to my advantage, not just trying to cover them and give credit
    when credit is due, but emphasizes on the learning process but most importantly
    show more pragmatism when it comes to solutions that’s how you do damage
    control and quite frankly that’s about the only choice she has right now.
    Florida already gave us a taste of what is to come during the next presidential

    Now that we’ve already came to the agreement that politicians
    are laughing at our expenses, let me throw in a joke of our own, Katt Williams
    told us that the only way for our government to act immediately and efficiently
    to a problem is when you mentioned insurgents, and most recently with the late
    cold war issues being brought up again as we’ve seen , I’m sure that if our leaders
    were told that a group of communist insurgents were preventing long term
    unemployed from getting a job, they’ll will do whatever is humanly possible to
    help pass the unemployment bill, they’ll even go the extra mile and pull off
    another all-nighter just to remedy to the situation not knowing that communist
    insurgents is just a code name made up by some unemployed to designate
    republicans. Word of advice Hilary tell Obama to offer you his support from his
    cozy couch at home and tell him to catch up with you on CNN news. On a more
    serious note I think all the unemployed people should do besides looking for a
    job is to go on a peaceful march in front of the white house and the congress.
    I mean how can you even start to look for a job when you don’t even have money
    for transportation?

    Or even money to eat or to feed your kids? And if you try exploit
    other resources in between looking for jobs and the many “NOs” that you might
    have encountered all along the way you might stumble upon the social services
    that by the way are already swamped for lack of better words with people in
    need of assistance, just to get a letter one month later by them saying that
    their supposed to get to every case within a week and they apologize for the inconvenience,
    and the only recomfort that you have is that they’ll get to your case….. Eventually….,
    praying and hoping that it’s not too late, and you are reduced to what you are
    used to by now, your friendly neighborhood garbage can, hoping to pull some
    scraps here and there. Living for the moment, not thinking about your future
    because you ain’t got none. Only hope sustains your being every minute that
    goes by, every day, you hope to have a better tomorrow. Though you were brought
    up in a Christian family with tons of values, your faith get tested every
    instant that passes by. Deep inside you after preaching the word of the LORD to
    your kids as a bed time story in your messed up, raggedy and old minivan, you
    still wondered if GOD truly exist. Deeply you know you committed sin, you are
    not perfect but are your sin worse than what Boehner or Reid did??

    Does your kids have to pay for what you did? Knowing that
    you never killed anybody. Last time you stole something was a week ago and it was
    an apple to feed your kids, plus the bible gives you a free pass on that
    because that’s not a crime if you steal to feed someone who is hungry. Hell the
    wild parties you ever had was when you were still in college and you did repent
    for it as far as you are concerned….

    • Connor Vlakancic

      March 13, 2014
      6:32 p.m.

      “CE” whatever that implies? If you desire to write comprehensively to convince people that you are knowledgeable, in the future, put your name and picture on what you write.

      • CE

        March 25, 2014
        8:29 p.m.

        You Obviously didn’t get the point, and sure enough I wasn’t expecting someone like you to comprehend…. Not only you lack the common sense that most of us “Humans” have but also you are unquestionably very dumb. Allow me to break it down for you, it is not my intentions to draw the spot light to me but the problem in hand : unemployment and the blatant lack of interest from our leaders.
        So the next time you feel like writing to me or asking me a question it better be regarding unemployment or even an idea that would help us force this “people” that we elected to remedy to the current situation if not please simply refrain yourself from addressing me at all, nor reading my comments, because my job is to help the unemployed by writing or else you will become my new hobby… have a good night.

  4. Sad!

    March 13, 2014
    5:58 p.m.

    This is excellent news for all the people who have worked and earned the right to unemployment. I have worked all my life! After I sustained an injury, I was illegally terminated and the unemployment extension is all I had for my kids. I want to work but it’s hard with a disability and finding none discriminatory employers who will accommodate a disability. I think we all want to work and make more money. Unemployment is so little, it barley feeds my kids. Thank you!

  5. Connor Vlakancic

    March 13, 2014
    6:25 p.m.

    And after 5 months, extend unemployment insurance benefits for another 5 months by extending customs user fees (or whatever other money laundering gimmick) through 2099. This reads like more kick-the-can-down-the-road. If one percent of the unemployed gets a job during the 5 months, they pay taxes to support the 99 percent that keeping voting for the politics-as-usual Congress. How about finance extend unemployment insurance benefits for 5 months with Congress does not get a US tax-payer provided pay check for 5 months!

  6. Whittier

    March 13, 2014
    7:08 p.m.

    Judging by that picture alone, Dean Heller looks absolutely pleased as punch!

    • Lamont Davis

      March 13, 2014
      9:39 p.m.

      Hello, Am i reading this article correctly is it stating that the congress has passed the bill to extend the Extended Unemployment insurance (E.U.C ) or its stating they are in the makings of an agreement to see if they will past this recent Democrat offer to senate on how to extend it if that is so then the people who are waiting for this bill to pass don’t get your hopes up not just yet these gamblers who we call Congress men and women might hit us with another whammy and say there is a new offer on the table

      • Gar

        March 13, 2014
        10:38 p.m.

        This is far from over, it would still have to pass the House. That will be the hard part. I see this dragging on and on. This is an election year.

  7. JD Mulvey

    March 13, 2014
    9:14 p.m.

    It’s about time, but I’m still worried.

    When this extension was left out of the Murray-Ryan budget deal in December, supporters in the Senate seemed to think it would be easy to pass when they got back from the Christmas break. In fact, they just gave the far right time to mobilize against it.

    Reid should find a way to get this voted on before the recess.

  8. T.A. Conscience

    March 13, 2014
    10:04 p.m.

    What is the good of being a genius if you cannot use it as an excuse for being unemployed? –Gerald Barzan.

  9. Glenn Koons

    March 13, 2014
    10:21 p.m.

    This was not what Obama wanted but the compromise seems to be fine for ….5 months and oddly, just before the ….election. Still both parties and especially Coburn and Collins, for once, should get credit, as should Heller.

  10. Borderhawk

    March 13, 2014
    11 p.m.

    Dean Heller is too busy trying to find jobs for illegals. Legalize the illegals and they will work in banks,ports and armored trucks.

    • lisa S

      March 14, 2014
      12:28 p.m.

      A big reason so many americans are out of work! The market i’m in, there are 20+ applicants per position I apply for. The odds, as you can tell..lead to a very long process. And being active in a job search is a full time job..

  11. teapartyidiots

    March 14, 2014
    10:53 a.m.

    Eh, the House will screw it up. They always do.

  12. AJ

    March 14, 2014
    4:21 p.m.

    So what do we do? Do we re apply for another claim online or do we just wait for a letter in the mail? Does anyone know?

    • JackLinks

      March 14, 2014
      4:38 p.m.

      According to Republicans, there’s plenty of jobs out there so go get one!

  13. Yonatan YONATAN

    March 14, 2014
    10:39 p.m.

    Finally, the Republican party decided to do what they should have done three months ago, but didn’t. While they chose to play “party politics”, and to drag their feet in the senate, millions of unemployed families were left to face eviction, home foreclosures, personal bankruptcies, and many had become homeless. Now, they decided to do the Just and Morally correct thing by passing a five month extension of unemployment for the two million of unemployed workers. However, since this is “retroactive”, these people will only have another two months of benefits, before running out again. How is this helping these families? There doesn’t seem to be a problem spending tax payers dollars to fund foreign aid and corporate welfare, or to bailout the banking and airline industries, but helping the poor isn’t in the budget.

  14. Patricia Holbrook

    March 15, 2014
    8:54 a.m.

    I’ve been unemployed for one year. Since that time I have applied to over 1,000 jobs in my city and across the United States. I am a middle aged woman with a college degree and some Graduate School behind me as well 25 years of solid administrative support experience. With all this, I can’t even get a job in customer service or general office work. At my age, the last resort would be retail or supermarket work. I’ve applied for jobs that paid half of my former $40,000/year salary (which would then make it impossible to afford health insurance.) I’ve gone on 20 interviews in the past year for positions I was often qualified (or over-qualified) for. I’m sure my age and being unemployed for so long is against me. I’ve sold everything of value and have closed all my credit cards in order to get lower payment options. Now that UI has been cut off, bill collectors call me daily. A temp agency told me they couldn’t place me because of my bad credit score. What a Catch-22. I’d pay my bills if I had a job, and I can’t get a job because I didn’t pay my bills!
    I am the first person in my family on SNAP, HEAP and Medicaid. Thank God for food stamps. This week I got lost driving to an interview and I couldn’t call the employer because my cell phone had been suspended that week. Most of the resumes I had sent out up until then had my cell phone as a contact number. Now if someone tries to call me for an interview, they can’t. Maybe they’ll email me. By the end of this week my home phone and internet will be shut off. I guess I’ll drive to the library to use the internet and apply for jobs.
    Yes, Unemployment Insurance should be extended, I don’t want to sell my tiny home ( and go where?), but we also need Affirmative Action in hiring those over 50 and the long-term unemployed (over half of those unemployed for over 9 months are also over 50 years old!) Please extend EUI… I’m not lazy, just middle-aged

  15. Melissa Montana

    March 15, 2014
    11:38 a.m.

    Promise kept? Hussein Obama has fundamentally transformed the amount of money owed by the Federal government:

  16. Don Turco

    March 15, 2014
    6:51 p.m.

    Nice clean bill that addresses the Problem. Someone must have tied up Harry Reid and sent him down the Potomac River on a raft with no rudder. It is unconscionable that this bill was help Up by Harry Reid and his usual weasel tactics……

  17. Forums4Justice

    March 15, 2014
    10:51 p.m.

    working in, non-agriculture, American jobs, by using false, or stolen SS numbers. Only 7% of the over 7 million employers are using E-Verify. E-Verify has a 99.71% accuracy rate (per recent Congressional testimony) … only 0.043% of employers (3,000) were audited for I-9 compliance in 2012. With each passing day, more illegal immigrants are on the way, taking our work. Using SS mismatches, DHS knows where these illegal immigrants are working. Enforce our existing laws against illegal immigration.

    Cost of Federal Unemployment Compensation Extensions (CBO):
    FY2007 37 FY2008 47 FY2009 120 FY2010 162 FY2011 126 FY2012 96 FY2013 72 = $660 Billion …………………..

  18. Esther Williams

    March 15, 2014
    11:49 p.m.

    Per Article 1, Section 8 of our sacred Constitution, Congress alone has the power to borrow money on the credit of these united states.

  19. Gregg

    March 16, 2014
    3:02 p.m.

    I think Americans need to open their eyes to the fact that their representatives do not represent the people they represent the corporations that funds the elections These are the same corporations that we have all work for to make so sucessful for all our lives.The ones that we give tax breaks to .The ones that lay us all off to out source the work to a third world country that has no labor protection laws no environmental standards that are so important to every living thing.If we want to really change the first thing we need to realize that our representative form of gov is obsolete we do not have somebody go to Washington on horse back to represent us anymore .We need to stop playing video games and use our computers to govern ourselves real time .If pro is opposite of con then congress must be the opposite of progress.

  20. Gregg

    March 16, 2014
    3:36 p.m.

    If we taxed corporations a full year of salary for every employees job that is out sourced out of the country.To help offset the cost of the long term unemployment .Shouldn’t those responsible for the problem share in some of the burden since they are ones reaping the benefits.
    Who is congress really representing here.Open your ignorant eyes america we are as divided as red and blue.

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    9:02 a.m.

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    5:29 p.m.

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    1:20 a.m.

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    2:58 a.m.

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    7:57 p.m.

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    Aug. 24, 2015
    3:10 a.m.

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    Aug. 24, 2015
    3:43 a.m.

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    9:28 p.m.

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    Aug. 25, 2015
    11:55 p.m.

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    Aug. 26, 2015
    8:48 p.m.

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    Aug. 26, 2015
    8:51 p.m.

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    12:26 a.m.

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    Aug. 27, 2015
    12:30 a.m.

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    Aug. 27, 2015
    7:58 p.m.

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  51. Anonymous

    Aug. 28, 2015
    11:11 a.m.

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    Aug. 28, 2015
    11:56 a.m.

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    Aug. 28, 2015
    8:38 p.m.

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    Aug. 29, 2015
    1:47 a.m.

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    Aug. 29, 2015
    3:04 a.m.

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