July 25, 2021

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Senate Dems, Manchin reach deal on COVID-19 unemployment benefits, allowing bill to move forward – Fox News

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President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package took a key step forward Friday night after Democratic leaders reached an agreement with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-WVa., on unemployment insurance benefits.

A Democratic push to move forward with Biden’s “American Rescue Plan” halted for hours on Friday after Manchin balked the terms of unemployment insurance outlined in the House’s version of the bill.

Manchin’s support is critical for Senate Democrats, who hold a razor-thin majority in the upper chamber and have garnered little support from GOP lawmakers on the package. Even with passage possible through a simple majority vote under special budget reconciliation rules, the Democrats will likely need to stay united in order to get the package through the Senate.

“The President has made it clear we will have enough vaccines for every American by the end of May and I am confident the economic recovery will follow,” Manchin said in a statement. “We have reached a compromise that enables the economy to rebound quickly while also protecting those receiving unemployment benefits from being hit with unexpected tax bill next year.”

Under the agreement with Manchin, Senate Democrats will submit a framework for $300 in weekly unemployment benefits through Sept. 6. In the House version, the weekly unemployment benefit was $400 through Aug. 29.

The agreement also includes a provision denoting that the first $10,200 of unemployment insurance is untaxable for first-time recipients in households earning less than $150,000. The clause was not included in the House bill.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said President Biden backs the compromise.

“The President supports the compromise agreement, and is grateful to all the Senators who worked so hard to reach this outcome,” she said in a statement. “It extends supplemental unemployment benefit into September, and helps the vast majority of unemployment insurance recipients avoid unanticipated tax bills. Most importantly, this agreement allows us to move forward on the urgently needed American Rescue Plan, with $1400 relief checks, funding we need to finish the vaccine rollout, open our schools, help those suffering from the pandemic, and more.”

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The Senate will proceed with its “vote-a-rama” on the bill, during which senators can propose amendments to the package as it currently stands. Earlier Friday, lawmakers shot down Sen. Bernie Sanders’ amendment that sought to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour as part of the package.

The Senate is expected to finalize the relief bill this weekend, though the exact timing of a final vote remains unclear.

Fox News’ Chad Pergram contributed to this report.

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