The compromise, announced by the West Virginia lawmaker and Democratic aide late Friday, seems to have paved the way for the Senate to begin a climate, marathon series of votes and ultimately endorse the extensive legislation.
The overall bill, President Joe Biden’s top legislative priority, aims to combat the killer pandemic and restore a healthy economy. It will provide direct payments of up to $ 1,400 to most Americans and money for vaccines and COVID-19 tests, aid to state and local governments, aid to schools and airlines, and health insurance subsidies.
Shortly before midnight, the Senate began adopting various amendments quickly. The votes were mainly for Republican proposals, virtually certain they would fail, but designed to force Democrats to vote politically awkwardly. It was not clear how long the “frame vote”
More importantly, the unemployment benefit agreement suggests that it is only a matter of time before the Senate passes the bill. This will send him back to the House, which is expected to give him final congressional approval and send him to Biden for his signature.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Biden supports a compromise on unemployment pay.
Friday’s ongoing opposition highlighted the headaches facing party leaders over the next two years – and tensions between progressives and centrists as they tried to move their agenda through Congress with their slim majorities.
Manchin is perhaps the most conservative Democrat in the House and King of the Senate 50-50. But the party cannot tilt the center too much to win Manchin’s vote without jeopardizing progressive support in the House, where they have only a 10-vote advantage.
Helping unemployed Americans is a top democratic priority. But it’s also a problem that is wedged between the progressives, who seek to help the unemployed cope with the grim economy, and Manchin, and others who want to cut some of the bill.
Biden noted the job report on Friday, which shows that employers have added 379,000 workers – an unexpectedly strong performance. That’s still small compared to 10 million fewer jobs than the pandemic a year ago.
“Without a rescue plan, those gains will slow,” Biden said. “We can’t afford one step forward and two steps back. We need to defeat the virus, provide substantial relief and build an inclusive recovery.”
The joint bill faces a solid wall of opposition to the CSOs, and Republicans used the deadlock for unemployment to accuse Biden of refusing to compromise with them.
“You could pick up the phone and end it now,” Senator Lindsey Graham, RS.C., told Biden.
But in a reassuring sign for Biden, a poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Relations Research found that 70 percent of Americans support his response to the pandemic, including a remarkable 44 percent of Republicans.
The house approved a relief bill last weekend that included $ 400 a week in unemployment benefits – in addition to regular government payments – until August. Manchin hoped to reduce these costs, arguing that the level of pay would discourage people from returning to work, a justification that most Democrats and many economists reject.
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Earlier in the day, Democrats said they had reached a compromise between the party’s moderates and the progressives, extending emergency unemployment benefits to $ 300 a week in early October.
This plan, sponsored by Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., Also included tax cuts on some unemployment benefits. Without it, many Americans who are suddenly fired will face unexpected tax bills.
But by noon, lawmakers said Manchin was ready to support a less generous Republican version. This led to hours of talks with White House aides, the best Senate Democrats and Manchin, as the party tried to find a way to save its unemployment aid package.
The compromise, announced Friday night, will provide $ 300 a week, with the final check paid on Sept. 6 and include tax relief for benefits.
During the “vote on the frame,” the Senate passed an amendment by Sen. Rob Portman, Ohio, that would extend $ 300 in unemployment benefits until July 18. But Portman’s victory was short-lived, and the proposal was overturned when the House subsequently adopted the Democrats’ unemployment insurance proposal.
Before the unemployment benefits drama began, senators voted 58-42 to kill the most progressive priority – a gradual increase in the current minimum wage from $ 7.25 to $ 15 in five years.
Eight Democrats voted against the proposal, suggesting that Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., And other progressives who have vowed to continue efforts in the coming months will face a tough battle.
This vote began shortly after 11 a.m. EST and was officially over only 12 hours later, as the Senate stopped working amid negotiations on unemployment benefits.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called on Democrats, calling their all-day effort to craft an unemployment change a “spectacle.”
“What it proves is that there is a benefit to a bilateral partnership when dealing with an issue of this magnitude,” McConnell said.
Republicans have criticized the overall relief bill as a liberal fest that ignores the growing number of vaccinations and signs of a booming economy suggesting the twin crises are easing.
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“Democrats have inherited a tide that has already turned.” said McConnell.
Democrats reject this, citing job losses and many people still struggling to buy food and pay rent.
“If you just look at a large number, you’re going to say, ‘Oh, it’s getting a little better,'” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y. “It’s not for the lower half of America. It’s not.”
The difficulties on Friday in terms of unemployment benefits were not the first delay in the relief package. On Thursday, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., Forced House officials to read aloud the entire 628-page relief bill, a grueling task that took 10 hours and 44 minutes and ended shortly after 2 a.m. EST.
Democrats made a number of other late changes to the bill designed to boost support. They ranged from extra money for food programs and federal health care subsidies for workers who lost their jobs to funds for rural health care and a language that provided minimum amounts for smaller states.
In another late deal that satisfied moderates, Biden and Senate Democrats agreed Wednesday to make some higher incomes inadmissible for direct face-to-face inspections.
Associated Press writer Kevin Frecking contributed to this report.
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