Senators Reach Bipartisan Deal on Unemployment Benefits

Mar 13, 2014 5:17pm

A month after the Senate failed to extend unemployment insurance, a bipartisan group of senators has struck a new deal to provide benefits to the long-term unemployed.

The deal would reauthorize unemployment insurance benefits for five months and allow for retroactive payments dating back to Dec. 28.

The proposal is paid for with a combination of offsets — including extending “pensions smoothing” provisions included in the 2012 highway bill and by extending customs users fees through 2024.

The bill also includes an offset which would allow single-employer pensions plans to prepay flat rate premiums.

In addition, the bill would end unemployment insurance payments to those who made $1 million or more in the previous year.

Leading the charge on the deal were Sens. Jack Reed, D-R.I., and Dean Heller, R-Nev. Eight other senators have co-sponsored the plan were Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine; Rob Portman, R-Ohio; Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska; Mark Kirk, R-Ill.; Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.; Cory Booker, D-N.J.; Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; and Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

“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,” Reed said in a statement. “We’re not at the finish line yet, but this is a bipartisan breakthrough.”

Unemployment insurance expired for 2 million Americans at the end of last year and Congress had been at a stalemate over extending them. The deal will need the support of 60 senators in order to avoid a filibuster.

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