Reed hopes for vote on jobless benefits renewal deal this week

Sen. Jack Reed said Tuesday that there is a short-term proposal ready to go in the Senate that would renew a federal unemployment benefits program.

The Rhode Island Democrat, who had been out front on the issue, said he hopes the Senate can pass a three-month fully paid for measure this week then work on longer-term legislation.

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The measure’s $6.4 billion cost is covered by a "pension smoothing" offset that, as Reed described it, uses historic data to determine pension contributions that would generate additional revenue that is taxed to create the funding needed.

Reed argued that it has been a pay for used in the past by Democrats and Republicans and is "not particularly controversial." 

He said he is working to get the 60 votes needed for a cloture vote, which could happen on Thursday.

“We have to act with a sense of urgency,” Reed told reporters Tuesday morning.

Sen. Dean Heller (R-R.I.) is cosponsoring the bill with Reed. 

The emergency program for those who are out of work at least six months expired at the end of the December and left 1.3 million without benefits.

Democrats argue that in the 38 days since the expiration nearly 1.7 million are now affected by the program’s lapse.