After months of inaction, the Senate might finally act to restore federal unemployment benefits as a small handful of Republicans broke from their party to support a new bipartisan compromise.
Five Republican senators joined five Democrats to support a new proposal that would restore jobless benefits for five months, paid for by a tweak to federal pension insurance and an increase in customs fees for imported merchandise, according to a joint press release from Sens. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, a Democrat, and Dean Heller of Nevada, the lead Republican on the bill.
GOP Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, Rob Portman of Ohio, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Mark Kirk of Illinois have co-sponsored the legislation. That’s enough support to break the Senate Republicans’ threat to filibuster the extension. The Democrats’ last attempt to pass an unemployment extension fell one Republican short.
The proposal would also eliminate unemployment aid to individuals whose adjusted gross income in the previous year was $1 million or more. Finally, the bill would include new provisions to ensure that unemployed workers are still eligible to receive benefits and assistance in being placed in jobs.
“We’re not at the finish line yet, but this is a bipartisan breakthrough,” Reed said in the statement.