Senators Reach Bipartisan Deal on Unemployment Benefits


iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — One 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 would allow for retroactive payments dating back to Dec. 28th.  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 user fees through 2024.   The bill also includes an offset which would allow single-employer pensions plans to prepay flat rate premiums.

Additionally, 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 – 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.”

It’s unclear when the Senate would vote on the bill since the Senate heads into a week-long recess starting later Thursday.  

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