Senators Reach Deal Extending Jobless Benefits - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Senators Reach Deal Extending Jobless Benefits

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A bipartisan group of senators says they have reached a compromise extending jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed for five months.
 
If the Senate approves, the deal would break a months-long stalemate over the issue in the chamber between the two parties. 
 
Two leaders of the negotiations -- Democratic Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island and Republican Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada -- said in a statement Thursday that the deal would be retroactive to the end of last year. Since that time, jobless coverage has expired for roughly 2 million people. 
 
The proposal would be paid for by extending some customs fees and changing how some companies set aside money for pensions, in effect increasing their taxes.
 
The deal also ends jobless payments to people earning over $1 million.  

Heller's office says the proposal is fully paid-for using a combination of offsets that includes extending "pension smoothing" provisions from the 2012 highway bill (MAP-21), which were set to phase out this year, and extending customs user fees through 2024. The bill also includes an additional offset allowing single-employer pension plans to prepay their flat rate premiums to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC).

"There are a lot of good people looking for work and I am pleased we're finally able to reach a strong, bipartisan consensus to get them some help.  Restoring this much needed economic lifeline will help job seekers, boost our economy, and provide a little certainty to families, businesses, and the markets that Congress is capable of coming together to do the right thing.  It has now been 75 days since UI expired and it needs to be renewed.  We're not at the finish line yet, but this is a bipartisan breakthrough.  I am grateful to Senator Heller for his leadership and for my many colleagues on both sides of the aisle who worked constructively to find a way forward.  I join Rhode Islanders and millions of people across the country in calling on Congress to pass this essential, common sense legislation without further delay and take additional action to help save and create jobs," said Senator Jack Reed, noting that about 8,000 Rhode Islanders have lost their UI coverage since the benefits were cutoff on December 28th and more than $20 million worth of unemployment checks have gone undistributed in Rhode Island as a result of UI's expiration.

"These past few months have been extremely difficult for thousands of Nevadans who have been unsure of how to pay the bills or feed their families. I am so glad that both Democrats and Republicans have come together on a proposal that will finally give Americans certainty about their unemployment benefits. This deal extends these important benefits for five months, pays for them, and brings buy-in from both sides of the aisle.  I am grateful to Senator Reed and to Senators Collins, Portman, Murkowski and Kirk for the determination and hard work involved in order to reach this point," said Senator Dean Heller.  As many as 21,000 Nevadans have lost their unemployment insurance benefits since they were cut off in December.

(The Associated Press also contributed to this report.)

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