the coronavirus crisis
After nine hours of negotiations, Senate Democrats reached a compromise on the enhanced unemployment payments in President Biden's COVID-19 stimulus plan, setting it up for passage perhaps as early as Saturday.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), a crucial moderate vote on the Democratic side in the 50-50 Senate, had expressed concern about raising the existing $300 per week benefit (which is set to expire on March 14) to $400 per week, but he came around on a new deal that kept the payments at $300 while extending them until early October. Additionally, the bill now forgives $10,200 in taxes on unemployment benefits received in 2020. The compromise was actually reported earlier in the day, but Manchin took several hours to sign off on it.
With the agreement in place, and Manchin and other centrist Democrats seemingly on board, the stimulus package is on track to pass with a simple majority vote since Democrats are using budget reconciliation which allows them to avoid Republican filibusters. It won't, however, include a gradual $15 per hour minimum wage hike. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) led a push to add that to the bill, but eight Democrats joined Republicans in voting against it. Read more at The New York Times and NBC News.