Reid proposes alternative unemployment deal

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced a new unemployment insurance deal that would extend the benefit through mid-November and is paid for by extending sequestration for one year.

Reid offered the deal as an amendment to the previously discussed three-month extension, S. 1845, the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act. He then filled the amendment tree, meaning Republicans won't be able to offer amendments to the bill, and filed a cloture motion.

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Reid said the deal includes some Republican suggestions, such as reforms to the program to ensure people on disability because they can’t work are no longer eligible for unemployment insurance as well, saving roughly $1 billion. And because Republicans want the entire $25 billion bill to be offset, Reid proposed extending sequestration for an additional year, a move that was used by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) in the bipartisan budget deal with Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) that Congress passed last year.

“If Republicans want to complain, call Paul Ryan; this is his idea,” Reid said. “If it’s good enough for the House, it’s good enough to help the unemployed.”

It’s unclear if Republicans would embrace the idea. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) asked Reid if he intended to allow any GOP amendments to the bill. Reid said "no."

Earlier this week, six Republicans joined Democrats in voting to end debate on the motion to proceed to the bill. But several of those Republican senators said after the vote the bill would have to be offset for them to support final passage. Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, one of those Republicans, said he was "disappointed" Reid "filled the amendment tree."

Portman and several other Republicans offered amendments that would pay for the bill in a different way than the new deal, such as delaying the implementation of ObamaCare for one year.

Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I) negotiated the new deal, which Portman said Republicans hadn't even seen.

"We have bent over backwards through Jack Reed to pay for this," Reid said. "The time is now to fish or cut bait."

 

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