Reid says UI deal hinges on lunch meeting

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday morning that Democrats will discuss the latest GOP offer to extend unemployment benefits at their weekly caucus lunch today and said that discussion should make it clear whether there is any way to move forward on that proposal.

"We have had some … good discussions, and I'm going to, as I know the Republican leader will, discuss if there's a way to move forward on unemployment insurance," Reid said on the floor. "I hope there is."

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"At 2:30 p.m. today, after our caucuses, we'll come out and see if there's some … consent agreement that we can present to the Senate and move forward with the legislation."

Democrats have pushed for an 11-month extension of emergency unemployment benefits, paid for by cuts in 2024. On Monday, Republicans said the cuts must happen in the normal 10-year budget window, and offered a plan to prevent illegal residents from claiming a child tax credit to pay for the extension.

The GOP demand for a current "pay-for" have slowed the Senate's progress on a bill and has made it unclear whether the two sides can find a middle ground at all. Six Republicans voted with Democrats last week to advance the bill, but many of those Republicans have insisted on a current pay-for.

After Reid spoke, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) reiterated this demand and stressed again that Republicans want some amendment votes before final passage. Democrats said last week they would not allow amendments at all but have said more recently that "relevant" proposals could be considered.

"We've got to get away from an attitude that essentially says that the views of half the American people don't matter here in the Senate," McConnell said. "That's just not how the Senate is supposed to work."

McConnell will be discussing the latest state of play in the talks during his own meeting with Senate Republicans this afternoon.

Reid tried to make the case for an extension by noting America's richest residents got even richer last year, at the same time that unemployed people are losing an emergency benefit worth about $300 a week.

"I do believe it's time for average Americans to share in that prosperity," Reid said.

"Sixty-seven of the richest people in the world live in America, and they got a $2 billion tip last year," he added. "The 1.4 million Americans, they lost $300 on average per week."

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