The Senate is expected to take another stab at passing a three-month unemployment insurance extension as early as next week.
Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidWeek ahead: Court watchers await abortion ruling; Zika fight heads to Senate This week: Zika, Puerto Rico fights loom ahead of recess Hispanic Caucus PAC looks to flex its muscles in 2016 MORE (D-Nev.) said Wednesday that it was still a Democratic priority and negotiations have continued despite earlier failures in January.
“The Republicans said they wanted it paid for and we figured out a way to pay for it,” Reid said of the new deal. “We hope we can get five courageous Republicans to step over the line [by voting to end debate].”
Sen. Jack ReedJack ReedOvernight Defense: Biden hits Trump on national security | Dems raise pressure over refugees | Graham vows fight over spending caps Graham: Opponents of lifting military spending caps are 'a-holes' Senate unlikely to vote on military cyber measure MORE (D-R.I.) has been negotiating with GOP Sens. Dean Heller (Nev.) and Rob Portman (Ohio) to find a deal. Reed’s latest proposal is for a three-month extension that is paid for through “pension smoothing” — a pay-for used in the 2012 highway bill.
Pension smoothing reduces pension expenditures for companies in the short term creating more taxable income, but it’s unclear how long it would take for this accounting procedure to generate the $6.5 billion. Some Republicans have also described the practice as a budget “gimmick” that risks greater liability in the long run.
Nearly 1.3 million people lost their long-term unemployment benefits at the end of December. Unemployment insurance was designed to help those looking for work in states that can’t afford to pay unemployment benefits for more than six months. Democrats have said they plan to use Republican refusal to pass a short-term extension against them in the 2014 mid-term elections.