A bipartisan group of senators ended a long-running election-season standoff and struck a compromise that would extend jobless benefits for 2 million Americans who have been out of work the longest, the lawmakers said Thursday.
Should the Senate approve the election-year measure – as seemed likely – it would throw the issue to the Republican-run House. Its fate there was uncertain.
The timing of a Senate vote also was unclear.
Two leaders of the negotiations -Sens. Jack Reed, D-R.I., and Dean Heller, R-Nev. – said in a statement that the deal would be retroactive to the end of last year, when the emergency benefits program expired. Since then, the benefits have ended for roughly 2 million people.
As the stalemate dragged on, Democrats had said opposition by most Republicans to extending the emergency benefits showed GOP indifference toward helping those out of work. Republicans said they wanted an extension that was fully paid for and which improved the system.
One aide said the measure’s price tag was $9.7 billion.
Lawmakers said the proposal was fully paid for by extending some customs fees and changing how some companies set aside money for pensions, in effect increasing their taxes. More federal revenue would be raised by changing the way some companies make payments to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., which guarantees workers’ pensions.
The deal would end jobless payments to people earning more than $1 million a year. The lawmakers cited 2010 IRS data showing that 0.03 percent of taxpayers earned over $1 million and received some form of federal or state unemployment benefits.
The agreement also has a provision aimed at improving programs that help the long-term unemployed find new jobs.
The measure will need 60 votes to overcome Republican procedural tactics aimed at killing it.
But with Democrats having 55 votes – including two usually supportive independents – supporters seemed to have a strong chance of reaching that threshold because five Republicans co-sponsored the announced deal. They were Heller and Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Rob Portman of Ohio, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mark Kirk of Illinois.
Photo Highlights: President Obama Chicago Farewell Speech
President Barack Obama makes his final farewell speech in his hometown of Chicago. Arriving at O'hare airport on Airforce One Tuesday, early evening was First Lady Michelle Obama, daughter Malia and Vice President Joe Biden along with wife, Jill Biden.
Making a final journey as the 44th President of the United States, expressways and local South Side streets were cleared as traffic stood at a complete when the 20-vehicle caravan made its way to Valois Restaurant in Hyde Park. There, President Obama conducted a one-on-one interview with NBC anchorman, Lester Holt before proceeding to give his farewell speech at McCormick Place.
Nearly 20,000 attendees packed the nearly standing-room only space in the East wing of the McCormick Place as VIP attendees sat upfront to hang onto the President's every word. There were various groups that traveled from far and near to be a part of history including celebrity sightings from Sharon Stone to Empire's Jussie Smollett--local and state dignitaries. Opening up the ceremony was a special performance by Hip hop/R&B singer, BJ the Chicago Kid showcasing belting out the national anthem is a smart blue suit.
Once President Obama hit the stage, the electric energy of emotions ran throughout the audience. At times, the crowd's applause was so loud that it impossible to hear him but there were moments that silence rippled throughout the venue--knowing this would be his last time addressing his hometown as Chief of Staff.
In his signature style of class, poise and honor--he addressed the various strides that he and his administration has made over the last eight years in protecting America's democracy. His emotions got the best of him when he addressed his wife, First Lady Michelle Obama and daughter Malia who sat in the front row along with Vice President Joe Biden, wife Jill and his mother-in-law--Marian Shields Robinson.
<p class="p1"><span class="s1">“Malia and Sasha, under the strangest of circumstances, you have become two amazing young women, smart and beautiful, but more importantly, kind and thoughtful and full of passion. You wore the burden of years in the spotlight so easily. Of all that I’ve done in my life, I’m most proud to be your dad.”</span></p>
<p class="p1">After the speech, the Obama family took time out to walk along the barricades, greeting and shaking hands with supporters and friends. The scene was definitely historic and we knew it was the end of an era of class that will not be duplicated in the White House for a very long time.</p>
<p class="p1"><a href="http://www.twitter.com/globalmixx">Follow Mary L. Datcher on Twitter</a></p>
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