Senate Negotiators Are Optimistic on Unemployment Insurance

A six-month deal could be in the works.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) points to a television displaying a count of the number of people losing unemployment benefits during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol February 6, 2014 in Washington, DC.
National Journal
Sarah Mimms
Add to Briefcase
Sarah Mimms
Feb. 25, 2014, 1:37 p.m.

After an­oth­er day of talks, two of the lead­ing sen­at­ors in­volved in the ne­go­ti­ations to ex­tend un­em­ploy­ment-in­sur­ance be­ne­fits ex­pressed op­tim­ism Tues­day about the pos­sib­il­ity of a deal.

That agree­ment, Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id said, would likely ex­tend the be­ne­fits for six months, rather than the three months Re­pub­lic­ans ini­tially pushed for. However, the le­gis­la­tion will be ret­ro­act­ive, giv­ing those on un­em­ploy­ment a lump sum for the amount they missed after be­ne­fits ex­pired on Dec. 28 and new checks likely through late June.

Asked when he ex­pects to bring an agree­ment to the floor, Re­id said: “Soon. I had some good con­ver­sa­tions today.”

Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., who has co­sponsored sev­er­al bills to re­in­state the pro­gram, also soun­ded up­beat on Tues­day. “I think something’s go­ing to hap­pen,” Heller said, though he was less cer­tain about the tim­ing. “I don’t know about this week, but we’re work­ing on it.”

Demo­crats need one more Re­pub­lic­an to join them in vot­ing for the ex­ten­sion, after a pre­vi­ous bill failed to get clo­ture earli­er this month. Cur­rently, mem­bers have their eyes on Sens. Mark Kirk of Illinois, Rob Port­man of Ohio, and Dan Coats of In­di­ana.

Heller spoke with the Demo­crats’ top tar­get, Kirk, about the is­sue Tues­day. “I had a good long talk with Dean Heller today about this very sub­ject, about the length of time and how we pay for it and how we bring the gim­micks out of any pay-for,” Kirk said.

Asked wheth­er he pre­ferred a short-term ex­ten­sion, such as a three-or-six-month patch, Kirk said: “Ob­vi­ously, from my view­point the less cost, the bet­ter.”

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who voted in fa­vor of the last bill to ex­tend the be­ne­fits and has been in­volved in the talks, agreed that a short-term solu­tion is best. Asked wheth­er a long-term ex­ten­sion, per­haps for a year, was a pos­sib­il­ity, Collins re­peatedly shook her head.

What We're Following See More »
UNTIL AFTER RECESS
Health Care Vote Delayed
11 hours ago
WHY WE CARE
SO SAYS CORNYN
Senate Procedural Vote Now Coming on Wednesday
12 hours ago
THE LATEST
MCCONNELL’S BACK AGAINST THE WALL
Heller, Paul Won’t Vote on Motion to Proceed
1 days ago
THE LATEST
LESS THAN HOUSE BILL
CBO Says 22 Million More Would Be UNinsured
1 days ago
THE DETAILS

The Senate bill "would increase the number of people without health insurance by 22 million by 2026, a figure that is only slightly lower than the 23 million more uninsured that the House version would create. Next year, 15 million more people would be uninsured compared with current law...The legislation would decrease federal deficits by a total of $321 billion over a decade."

Source:
BEFORE JULY 4 RECESS
Cornyn Says Health Vote Needed This Week
1 days ago
THE LATEST
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login