U.S. Senate reaches deal to extend unemployment benefits
(CNN) – A group of 10 U.S. senators has reached a deal to extend federal benefits to the chronically unemployed for five months, a development one negotiator called a “bipartisan breakthrough.”
Five Republicans have signed on to the measure, effectively meaning it should clear the Democratic-led chamber. A vote is not expected until after next week’s recess and prospects for passage in the House are uncertain.
The recession-era program that extended jobless benefits for millions of Americans expired at the end of last year.
Efforts to renew it since, even for a short period of time, have fallen short due wrangling over new spending.
Republicans also have argued the extended benefits are a disincentive for people to find jobs and have wanted to tie reforms to the unemployment insurance program to any extension.
To cover the costs of the new program for five months, proponents said Congress would tweak federal pension law to save money and increase revenues.
It would also end unemployment insurance for anyone whose adjusted gross income in the preceding year was $1 million or more.
“There are a lot of good people looking for work and I am pleased we’re finally able to reach a strong, bipartisan consensus to get them some help,” said Sen. Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat.
“We’re not at the finish line yet, but this is a bipartisan breakthrough,” he added.
Recent national polling indicated strong majority support for extending long term unemployment benefits.