Democrats Agree To Cut Weekly Unemployment Benefits By 25%
Senate Democrats have agreed to lower the weekly unemployment benefit from $400 to $300 per week in their COVID-19 stimulus bill, however they extended them through September, according to Politico.
In addition, the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits will be tax-free, according to the Wall Street Journal, citing an aide.
The changes, included in a new amendment readied by Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), were hatched by a team of moderate and progressive Democrats, and will be presented during the Senate’s Friday marathon voting session on amendments. It “ also links up the expiration of unemployment benefits with the current lapse of government funding at the end of September,“ according to the report.
There’s still plenty of drama ahead during the voting series, with the GOP seeking to inflict maximum political pain, starting midday Friday. The protracted ordeal, known as vote-a-rama, is widely despised by members of both parties and guaranteed to leave sleepless members running on fumes just ahead of the bill’s passage in the upper chamber, likely Saturday. But there’s no way around it.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer vowed Friday that the Senate would „power through and finish this bill, however long it takes.“ –Politico
„It would be so much better if we could in a bipartisan way, but we need to get it done,“ said Schumer, who added: „We’re not going to make the same mistake we made after the last economic downturn, when Congress did too little.“
The „vote-a-rama“ is a ‚legislative endurance run‘ which allows any member to propose an amendment followed by a drawn-out roll call vote, and is part of the reconciliation process. Once over, Senate Democrats could pass the bill as early as Saturday, with Vice President Kamala Harris serving as the tie-breaking vote. Then, the amended relief bill would go back to the House, which would need to approve the changes before it crosses President Biden’s desk.
The first amendment will be on raising the minimum wage to $15 hourly, which is set to fail.
Senate Republicans plan to make Democrats pay for leaving them out of the package, forcing votes on dozens upon dozens of amendments after Congress passed five pandemic aid bills with bipartisan support last year. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) on Thursday already forced clerks to read the entire 628-page bill out loud on the floor, which ended at 2:04 a.m. Friday. –Politico
According to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Democratic package is a „poorly targeted rush job.“
„In this supposed new era of healing leadership, we’re about to watch one party ram through a partisan package on the thinnest of margins,“ he said, adding: „We’re going to try to improve the bill. The millions who elected 50 Republican senators will have their voices heard loud and clear.“
Read the rest of the report here.