Breakthrough: Senate Reaches Deal On Jobless Benefits

The Senate reached a bipartisan deal on Thursday to revive emergency jobless benefits for five months and permits retroactive payments to those who lost it on Dec. 28, according to top aides familiar with the agreement.

It’s paid for with a policy known as “pension smoothing” (which both parties have supported in the past but critics have bashed as a budgetary sleight of hand), an extension of custom user fees through 2024 and a provision that lets single-employer pension plans prepay their premiums.

The agreement was struck by Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) and Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV). It’ll be sponsored by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Susan Collins (R-ME), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Rob Portman (R-OH), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Mark Kirk (R-IL).

That includes five Republicans who can help Democrats get to 60 votes and break a filibuster if the 55-member caucus votes together.

Even if the bill gets through the Senate, it’ll be tough sell in the Republican-led House, where GOP leaders have signaled that they don’t want to revive the lapsed program.

The proposal will have a provision to end jobless benefit payments to those with adjusted gross income of $1 million or more in the previous year.

Nonpartisan economists say unemployment benefits tend to be a very effective way to stimulate a weak economy.

(Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the name of a senator who struck the deal. It is Sen. Jack Reed, not Harry Reid. We regret the error.)

Dear Reader,

When we asked recently what makes TPM different from other outlets, readers cited factors like honesty, curiosity, transparency, and our vibrant community. They also pointed to our ability to report on important stories and trends long before they are picked up by mainstream outlets; our ability to contextualize information within the arc of history; and our focus on the real-world consequences of the news.

Our unique approach to reporting and presenting the news, however, wouldn’t be possible without our readers’ support. That’s not just marketing speak, it’s true: our work would literally not be possible without readers deciding to become members. Not only does member support account for more than 80% of TPM’s revenue, our members have helped us build an engaged and informed community. Many of our best stories were born from reader tips and valuable member feedback.

We do what other news outlets can’t or won’t do because our members’ support gives us real independence.

If you enjoy reading TPM and value what we do, become a member today.

Latest Dc
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Director of Audience:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: