Democratic drama over unemployment benefits is snagging the Senate’s coronavirus relief debate.
The Senate has been stuck in a state of limbo for hours as senators try to figure out the path forward on ten weekly unemployment payments.
Senators have filed two competing unemployment proposals: One, from Sen. (R-Ohio), would provide $300 per week through mid-July, a significantly shorter timeline than what’s supported by most Democrats.
The second, from Sen. (D-Del.), would provide a $300 weekly payment through September.
That’s a change from the House bill, which provided $400 per week through August. But Democrats unveiled the agreement earlier Friday, characterizing it as a deal worked out by their moderate and progressive factions.
In order for Democrats to attach their proposal to the coronavirus bill, they would need the support of all 50 members of their caucus and Vice President Harris to break a tie.
But in a significant snag, Portman told reporters that he believes he can get the support of all 50 senators and Sen. (D-W.Va.) to vote for his proposal.
“I think so,” Portman said, asked if he has the entire GOP caucus and Manchin.
Sen. (R-S.D.) said Republicans were waiting for Democrats to “get their members in line.”
“I feel bad for Joe Manchin. I hope the Geneva Convention applies,” Thune said.
A spokesperson for Manchin didn’t respond to a request for comment. But Manchin was spotted huddling with Portman on the Senate floor before heading into the GOP cloakroom.
Sens. (D-Mont.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) were overheard by reporters chatting with Manchin on the Senate floor.
Meanwhile, Carper was filtering between the floor and a room nearby where he was huddling when staff.
Asked about Manchin, Carper appeared visibly agitated, telling reporters: “No comment.”
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