Dems eye sequester to pay for unemployment
By: Burgess Everett
January 9, 2014 01:24 PM EST
Senate Democrats are coming together on a proposal that would pay for a revival of emergency unemployment benefits through the fall by extending the sequester for one year, senior Democratic aides said.
Republicans are demanding that any extension of unemployment insurance be paid for and, in turn, Democrats are pitching an extension of the sequester’s mandatory savings through 2024. Along with a crackdown on people who draw both disability and unemployment benefits, the proposal would raise roughly $18 billion and fund an extension of an expired unemployment benefits through November.
The pay-for is being closely negotiated by Sens. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.), sources said. Democrats are taking the temperature of their caucus during a party lunch and Majority Leader Harry Reid said he was “cautiously optimistic” that a deal could be reached Thursday.
Democrats have the narrowest of margins to convince Republicans on a suitable pay-for. Just six Republicans supported breaking a Tuesday filibuster on the bill, and they may balk at using future savings to pay for an immediate extension of benefits the expired on Dec. 28. Democrats will need 60 votes — at least five from Republicans — to break another expected filibuster of the bill.
“The odds are pretty high we’ll get something, but the $64,000 question is the House,”said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who said that due to the drama over the ongoing farm bill, that has mostly been ruled out as a source of money.
House Speaker John Boehner’s aides have said his chamber will consider an extension of unemployment benefits if it is paid for.