OVERNIGHT MONEY: Senate plans unemployment vote for Monday

FRIDAY'S BIG STORY: 

The table is set: House and Senate lawmakers are heading out of town for the weekend, but before they left, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said his chamber would take another vote Monday on a renewal of federal unemployment benefits.

That vote is expected to allow the Senate to proceed to the bill.

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The Senate voted 65-34 Thursday to advance the legislation, and it was thought that the upper chamber would go ahead and take a final vote on Friday. 

But Reid opted to hold off until Monday. 

The Senate also will vote Monday on a bill that prevents a pending cut to Medicare physician rates — a day before the deadline. The measure will need 60 votes to pass after sneaking out of the House on Thursday by voice vote.

On Thursday, the vote on the bipartisan unemployment insurance bill drew the support of 10 Republicans, which gives the bipartisan legislation a solid chance of passage.

But action in the House appears unlikely with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) saying he won’t consider the Senate deal because it doesn’t include job-creating measures.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said the Senate took an important step forward and that it is time for House Republicans to do their part.

"House Republicans must overcome their spectacular indifference to the struggles of these Americans, and work with Democrats to renew emergency unemployment insurance without any further delay," Pelosi (Calif.) said. 

Conservative group Heritage Action urged senators to vote against the unemployment insurance bill, saying it hampers the ability of the long-term unemployed to find work. 

The Republicans who voted in favor of advancing the bill were Sens. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Dan Coats (Ind.), Susan Collins (Maine), Dean Heller (Nev.), Ron Johnson (Wis.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Rob Portman (Ohio), Pat Toomey (Pa.), Bob Corker (Tenn.) and Mark Kirk (Ill.).

Sens. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) have put together a plan that would provide retroactive benefits to the more than 2 million people who lost their benefits after the program expired on Dec. 28.

The Senate has failed to pass two other benefits extensions.

The nearly $10 billion measure uses several ways to pay for the bill, including pension smoothing and extending customs user fees through 2024.

The measure would also prevent millionaires and billionaires from receiving the federal benefits.

Senate passage would shift the focus to the House after months of discussions.

The Speaker has cited a letter from the National Association of State Workforce Agencies that expressed technical concerns about providing the retroactive benefits, among other issues stemming from the nearly three-month lapse.

But Labor Secretary Thomas Perez and other advocates have argued that the problems could be overcome to continue the program.

"All the administrative challenges to the states pale in comparison to the challenges of our constituents out of work," Reed said Thursday.

"We would hope that the House would respond appropriately, so we can give some hope and confidence to people struggling to find jobs in this economy."

The emergency program sets in once workers exhaust their state-level benefits, usually after 26 weeks.

Portman, a bill cosponsor, said he "worked for months with my colleagues to make sure we came up with a proposal that was short-term, paid for and reforms this broken program."

"The current UI program is failing to connect Americans with jobs, and after this short-term bill is passed, it’s critical that we continue to work on making significant long-term reforms to help get people back on their feet."

 

LOOSE CHANGE

They're back: A bipartisan group of House lawmakers is working up a new round of Iran sanctions, according to our old pal Julian Pecquet, now at Al-Monitor.

The Foreign Affairs Committee is taking the lead on the potential measure, which would allow the House to put some space between itself and the White House. Targets of the sanctions could include banking interests in both Europe and Lebanon.

Piling on: The New Democrat Coalition is adding two new members: Reps. Tony Cárdenas (Calif.) and Ann Kirkpatrick (Ariz.). The group, which encompasses more than a quarter of the entire Democratic Caucus, has been outspoken on trade issues and has expressed support for the White House's agenda. 

"I'm honored to welcome Tony and Ann to the New Democrat Coalition," said Chairman Ron Kind (D-Wis.).

“Both of them exemplify what it means to be a New Democrat in today’s turbulent Washington — they’re pragmatic, moderate problem-solvers who believe in building compromise from the middle out."

 

ECONOMIC INDICATORS 

Personal income-personal spending: The Commerce Department will release February figures that measure income from all sources. Expectations are that income and spending increased last month but at a slower pace than January.   

Michigan Sentiment: Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan will release its final measure of consumer sentiment for March, which is projected to show a slight improvement over February's reading. 

 

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED

— Audit: IRS needs stronger oversight of tax deduction

Froman will talk trade at Senate Finance next week

— Biden: Immigrants part of US economic edge

— Boxer: Congress 'running out of time' on highway funding

— Financial Services Roundtable adds lobbyists

— Senate confirms SBA nominee

— Despite votes, Ukraine bill not done yet

— House, Senate approve Ukraine aid

Waters offers her own housing overhaul

— US economy grows at faster 2.6 percent pace in Q4

— Senate Finance to consider tax extenders next week

 

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