Politics Senate Democrats vote to provide $300 unemployment benefits into September
Stimulus bill: When will Congress pass Covid relief?
The major order of business for President Joe Biden and Congress is to pass a $1.9 trillion Covid relief package before the round of unemployment benefits and other aid approved in December lapse, again leaving millions of Americans short of help. © Eric Baradat/AFP/Getty Images The Capitol is seen on a cold winter evening in Washington, DC, on February 18, 2021. What's riding on this negotiation is the $1,400 stimulus checks proposed by Biden even before he took office, as well as that extra federal unemployment money. Democrats have said they will get a bill signed by mid-March.
Senate Democrats voted early Saturday morning to provide a $300 weekly federal unemployment payment into early September-effectively undoing a GOP effort to end those payments in mid-July.
Senators voted 50-49 to add the amendment from Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) into the roughly $1.9 trillion coronavirus bill currently being debated by the chamber.
All 50 Democratic senators vote for the amendment, which provides the weekly $300 payment until Sept. 6. Every Republican on hand to vote opposed it.
The vote came roughly an hour after Senate Republicanswhen they muscled an amendment from Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) temporarily into the coronavirus bill. Portman's amendment provided a $300 per week payment but until July 18.
Unemployment benefits expire March 14. What's at stake for the stimulus
Millions of Americans will start running out of pandemic unemployment benefits in just two weeks, putting increased pressure on the Senate to quickly pass its version of President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. © Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images The U.S. Capitol building is seen at sunrise on February 10, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Republicans were able to claim the brief victory because Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who supported the subsequent Democratic amendment, also voted for Portman's proposal.
But a Democratic aide had telegraphed in advance how the drama would play out. There was a roughly hour delay between the Portman and Wyden votes because Democrats were still waiting to find out the cost of their proposal.
"We expect Senator Portman to offer his UI amendment and for it to pass. However, it will be superseded by Senate Democrats' new UI agreement, which will be offered and passed as an amendment tonight," the Democratic aide said ahead of the votes.
Both of the proposals are a change from the House-passed bill that would have provided a $400 per week payment through late August.
Senate Democrats announce deal on unemployment insurance, allowing Biden bill to move forward
The Senate will debate and vote on amendments to the proposed $1.9 trillion stimulus starting Friday, a process that is expected to bring fiery exchanges but ultimate passage of President Biden's top legislative priority.The agreement would extend the existing $300 weekly unemployment benefit through Sept. 6, as well as provide tax relief on benefits for households making under $150,000.
Democrats kept the debate over the coronavirus relief bill in limbo for nearly 12 hours starting midday Friday as they tried to work out the agreement on the unemployment language.
They had initially indicated that they had a deal on Friday morning that would have provided the $300 unemployment benefit until early October.
But as the day dragged on-and Democrats set a new record for the longest vote in modern Senate history-it became obvious that Democrats were scrambling to lock down Manchin's support.
Because of the thin 50-50 margin, Democrats needed the support of their entire caucus in order to a deal on the unemployment payments into the bill. They, which had Manchin's support, shortly before 8 p.m. on Friday.
In addition to the $300 per week payment, the Democratic agreement also omits $10,200 of unemployment benefits from federal income taxes for households with an income of less than $150,000.
"Our goal has been to secure the strongest possible protections for jobless Americans that could pass the Senate," Wyden said ahead of the vote.
Senate Nears Saturday Passage After All-Nighter: Stimulus Update .
The Senate is on track to pass President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus bill as early as midday Saturday after a compromise reduced added unemployment benefits to $300 a week, one of several ways moderate Democrats shaped the bill to be less generous than the House version. Democrats also fought off a raft of Republican amendments to cut state and local funding, redirect Amtrak funding, end aid to indebted minority farmers, and stop grants for non-profit entities. The amendment process began after 11 a.m. on Friday.But the chamber voted to include the deal Democrats reached within their own ranks to extend until Sept.