WASHINGTON: 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 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.
One aide said the measure’s price tag was $9.7 billion.
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.