The Senate Has a Deal on Unemployment Insurance

The package is expected to pass after the Senate returns on March 24.

Job seekers wait in line to enter the San Francisco Hirevent job fair at the Hotel Whitmore on July 12, 2011 in San Francisco, California.
National Journal
Sarah Mimms
March 13, 2014, 10:45 a.m.

Sen­ate ne­go­ti­at­ors have reached an agree­ment on ex­tend­ing un­em­ploy­ment-in­sur­ance be­ne­fits to the 2 mil­lion job­less Amer­ic­ans who have not re­ceived their checks since the pro­gram ex­pired in Decem­ber.

The deal was an­nounced Thursday even­ing, just be­fore sen­at­ors re­cess for 10 days.

The agree­ment will ex­tend for five months the fed­er­al un­em­ploy­ment-in­sur­ance pro­gram (which be­ne­fits those who have been out of work for at least six months). Be­cause the new pro­gram will in­clude ret­ro­act­ive be­ne­fits from Decem­ber, the ex­ten­sion would ex­pire for all be­ne­fi­ciar­ies in late May.

The agree­ment is sim­il­ar to one pro­posed by Sen­ate Re­pub­lic­ans just last week.

The bill is paid for by ex­tend­ing cus­toms user fees through 2024 and a pro­cess called “pen­sion smooth­ing” that al­lows em­ploy­ers to re­duce their pay­ments to em­ploy­ees’ pen­sions. The fi­nal agree­ment would not pre­vent in­di­vidu­als from col­lect­ing both un­em­ploy­ment and dis­ab­il­ity be­ne­fits sim­ul­tan­eously, as pre­vi­ously pro­posed by Sen. Rob Port­man, R-Ohio.

The bill also re­forms the over­all pro­gram by ask­ing state and fed­er­al agen­cies in­volved to de­term­ine why an in­di­vidu­al re­mains un­em­ployed and of­fer “per­son­al­ized as­sess­ments” as to how that per­son can im­prove their pro­spects for find­ing work, un­der a pro­vi­sion cham­pioned by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. It also builds on an earli­er pro­vi­sion pushed by Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Jon Test­er, D-Mont., that would pre­vent in­di­vidu­als from re­ceiv­ing the be­ne­fits who earned a gross ad­jus­ted in­come of $1 mil­lion or more the pre­vi­ous year.

Be­cause of next week’s re­cess, a vote is not ex­pec­ted un­til after sen­at­ors re­turn to Wash­ing­ton on March 24. A Sen­ate Re­pub­lic­an aide said that the deal would en­sure that suf­fi­cient Re­pub­lic­an votes will be avail­able for pas­sage (five are needed), but that all sev­en who co-sponsored the GOP ex­ten­sion may not vote in fa­vor of the meas­ure.

The bill is co-sponsored by five Re­pub­lic­ans already: Port­man and Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Dean Heller of Nevada, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mark Kirk of Illinois.

This will mark the fourth time this year that Sen­ate lead­er­ship has brought an un­em­ploy­ment in­sur­ance pack­age to the floor. The last ef­fort, back in Feb­ru­ary, came just one vote short of the 60 needed for pas­sage.

A Sen­ate deal is still far from guar­an­teed to pass the House, where Re­pub­lic­ans have ex­pressed op­pos­i­tion to ex­tend­ing the be­ne­fits. House Speak­er John Boehner has in­sisted he will not bring an un­em­ploy­ment-in­sur­ance fix to the floor un­less it is fully paid for and also in­cludes a sep­ar­ate job-cre­ation pro­vi­sion.

This post was up­dated at 4:15 p.m.

What We're Following See More »
SANDERS UP TEN POINTS
Trump Leads Tightly Packed Group Vying for Second
11 hours ago
THE LATEST

In one of the last surveys before New Hampshirites actually vote, a Monmouth poll has Donald Trump with a big edge on the Republican field. His 30% leads a cluster of rivals in the low-to-mid teens, including John Kasich (14%), Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio (13% each) and Ted Cruz (12%). On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders leads Hillary Clinton 52%-42%.

Source:
‘PULLING A TRUMP’
GOP Budget Chiefs Won’t Invite Administration to Testify
9 hours ago
THE DETAILS

The administration will release its 2017 budget blueprint tomorrow, but the House and Senate budget committees won’t be inviting anyone from the White House to come talk about it. “The chairmen of the House and Senate Budget committees released a joint statement saying it simply wasn’t worth their time” to hear from OMB Director Shaun Donovan. Accusing the members of pulling a “Donald Trump,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the move “raises some questions about how confident they are about the kinds of arguments that they could make.”

Source:
‘HERMETICALLY SEALED’
Bill Goes on the Offensive Against Bernie
9 hours ago
THE LATEST

“Bill Clinton uncorked an extended attack on … Bernie Sanders on Sunday, harshly criticizing” the senator “and his supporters for what he described as inaccurate and ‘sexist’ attacks on Hillary Clinton. ‘When you’re making a revolution you can’t be too careful with the facts,’ … Clinton said. … The former president … portrayed his wife’s opponent … as hypocritical, ‘hermetically sealed’ and dishonest.”

Source:
A DARK CLOUD OVER TRUMP?
Snowstorm Could Impact Primary Turnout
4 hours ago
THE LATEST

A snowstorm is supposed to hit New Hampshire today and “linger into Primary Tuesday.” GOP consultant Ron Kaufman said lower turnout should help candidates who have spent a lot of time in the state tending to retail politicking. Donald Trump “has acknowledged that he needs to step up his ground-game, and a heavy snowfall could depress his figures relative to more organized candidates.”

Source:
×