Republicans just blocked the three month unemployment insurance (UI) extension bill leaving little hope that benefits will be extended.
Democrats and Republicans were unable to reach an agreement on a way to offset the cost of an eleven month extension and the talks broke down into partisan bickering over amendments.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) proposed to pay for the extension by extending Medicare provider cuts an additional year in 2024. This proved unacceptable to Republicans, who deemed it an increase in spending this year for uncertain future cuts.
Republicans countered with a series of amendments that were unacceptable to Democrats, including one to delay the individual mandate. In response, Reid refused to allow any amendments on the bill.
After receiving criticism in both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, the majority leader returned this week with a deal for Republicans: each side could propose five amendments that needed 60 votes to pass and final passage of the bill would only require 51 votes.
Republicans rejected this proposal, not wanting to forfeit their right to filibuster the final agreement.
Without a path forward, Reid asked for a vote to end debate on the three month extension which Republicans promptly filibustered.
This impasse means that the 1.4 million Americans who have lost their benefits since the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program (EUC) expired a few days after Christmas. The EUC allowed beneficiaries to collect benefits for up to 73 weeks, more than double the normal 26 weeks, although the exact duration varied by state.
Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) can still work out a deal, but their inability to come to agreement over the past few days does not bode well.
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