WASHINGTON – Senate Democrats have reached a deal to keep the federal unemployment benefit at $300 per week until September, down from a proposed increase to $400 in President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 stimulus package, according to a Democratic aide.
Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., is expected to introduce an amendment to the $1.9 trillion legislation Friday as the Democrat-controlled Senate considers tweaks to the measure.
His proposal would extend the $300 weekly benefit through September. The original bill that passed the House last week upped the weekly amount to $400, but ended the benefit in August.
More:The Senate is debating Biden’s COVID stimulus bill. When can you expect help? Here’s what we know.
The added unemployment benefit, currently at $300, has been a contentious point in the bill with Republicans voicing opposition to Democrats’ plans to extend and up the payment amount.
Congress faces a countdown to get the stimulus package to Biden by mid-March, when Americans are set to lose the current weekly federal unemployment boost.
Both progressive and moderate Democrats agreeing to the amendment comes after moderate Republicans, like Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, told reporters Thursday he thinks “there would be Republicans who would agree to bring the number down.”
More:Biden’s relief bill isn’t getting bipartisan support like previous stimulus bills. What do Republicans dislike so much?
The first $10,200 of the unemployment benefits will be non-taxable for the first time to prevent surprise bills for the unemployed at the end of year. The agreement also extends tax rules regarding excess business loss limitations for an additional year, through 2026.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, told reporters Friday, “it’s an important step that they’re looking to get it down from $400. I think that’s a positive.”
Live stimulus updates: Senate Democrats reach deal to keep weekly unemployment benefit at $300 per week
Both Romney and Murkowski were part of a group of 10 Republicans that met with Biden at the White House in early February to negotiate on the stimulus package.
Senate Finance Chair, Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who had been pushing to extend the benefits through September, told reporters the change is getting a warm reception.
“In this kind of environment, where literally every single Democrat is key, so far the reaction has been positive,” he said.
Contributing: Nicholas Wu