A bipartisan group of U.S. senators reached a deal Thursday to resume lapsed unemployment benefits and retroactively pay out five months of missed benefits.
According to Politico, Sens. Jack Reed, D-R.I., and Dean Heller, R-Nev., led the discussions and arrived at a deal that is expected to get at least 60 votes and pass the Senate after months of fierce debate on the subject. The bill will retroactively grant long-term benefits that expired in December and establish job training programs to help place long-term unemployed Americans in new jobs. It will also contain allowances preventing billionaires and millionaires from drawing on federal aid. The bill probably will come up for a vote later in the month after the Senate’s St. Patrick’s Day recess.
Since unemployment benefits expired in December, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has repeatedly attempted to introduce legislation restoring them, but Republicans have blocked the proposed bills out of concern for how the government would finance the benefits. Now, however, Senate leaders have found a compromise by altering pension plans and expanding customs fees until 2024.
In addition to endorsements from Reid, Reed and Heller, the jobless aid package has also been co-signed by Sens. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.; Susan Collins, R-Maine; Cory Booker, D-N.J.; Rob Portman, R-Ohio; Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska; Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Mark Kirk, R-Ill. The inclusion of five Republicans gives the bill a reasonable chance of reaching 60 votes required to break a filibuster if Republican opponents to the package make an attempt at shutting it down.
Though the bill seems likely to make it through the Senate, Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and other prominent House Republicans have opposed similar measures in the past, making it a possibility that the aid package could pass in the Senate but die later in the House.