Senate Nearing Agreement on Jobless Benefits, Reid Says

The U.S. Senate is close to an agreement on a plan to revive expanded unemployment benefits that expired late last year, Majority Leader Harry Reid said.

Senators are “very, very close to having a bipartisan bill to extend unemployment benefits,” Reid, a Nevada Democrat, told reporters today in Washington.

Maine Republican Susan Collins, who is offering the proposal, said the extension would be for five months and be retroactive to December, when the previous expanded unemployment benefits expired.

Collins said the extension would be “fully paid for” and the financing plan would be different from previous proposals.

“We are still working out the details,” Collins told reporters. “I expect that we will have an announcement later today.”

Reid said the Senate may take up the measure when it returns from next week’s break.

The last time majority Democrats tried to act on the issue, they were pressing for three months of benefits. The bill, S. 1845, stalled Feb. 6 when backers didn’t have enough support to advance it.

Republicans have opposed previous Democratic proposals to pay the cost of extending the benefits. The emergency jobless benefits expired Dec. 28 for 1.6 million Americans.

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