Republicans Offer Deal on Unemployment Extension Vote

By Humberto Sanchez -  April, 3rd, 2014 - Updated, 3:34 p.m. |

mcconnellSenate Democratic leaders are weighing an offer from Senate Republicans to agree to a vote on one catchall amendment, including authorization of the Keystone XL pipeline, in exchange for finishing work on an unemployment insurance extension bill today.

A senior Senate Democratic aide said they believe wrapping several Republican amendments into one has the effect of “watering down” their efforts to score political points.

“The fact that we are considering this at all, I think, shows that their gotcha amendments have lost their punch,” the aide continued.

The proposal would likely have a 60-vote threshold, the aide said, but stressed it was still being finalized. Passage of the amendment would be unlikely since Democrats control 55 votes in the chamber.

If a deal is reached, Senate Majority Leader Reid, D-Nev., would likely set up a vote on their paycheck equity bill for Tuesday, which is recognized as Equal Pay Day by the National Committee on Pay Equity, a coalition including women’s and civil rights organizations.

Along with authorizing the Keystone pipeline, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the amendment would include his proposal that would block carbon emissions rules for coal-fired power plants.

He said it would also include a provision scrapping the 2.3 percent excise tax on medical devices under the Affordable Care Act, and eliminate language in the law that defines the full time employees as those that work 30 hours a week. (Update: The voting deal fell apart, but the legislation advanced 61-35 late Thursday. Final passage vote will now take place Monday.)

The Republican-run House today is considering its own legislation addressing the full-time definition issue.

The GOP amendment would also include tax proposals, such as a provision making permanent the $500,000 expensing limit for small businesses, and would also permanently expand cash accounting to firms with annual gross receipts of up to $10 million.