March 23, 2023

Senate's debate on $1.9tn Covid relief hits delays over unemployment benefits – live

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12.33am GMT

The senate remains at a standstill as Democratic lawmakers race to pass the $1.9tn Covid relief bill without any Republican support.

West Virginia’s Senator Joe Manchin, who signaled that he might side with Republicans on an amendment for unemployment benefits, has refused to comment on how he will vote. CNN reports that he’s left the Senate floor and is now inside Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s office.

The Manchin surprise:

– Dems fear he’ll back the GOP plan to pare back jobless benefits
– GOP working to line up support from all 50 members
– Dems working to get him to back WH-Dem deal
– Manchin concerned about $10,200 in tax-free jobless benefits
– Senate in a standstill

Carper refused to comment on where things stand, only telling CNN: “It’s gotta get done.”

The Carper amendment would codify a deal reached between the White House and Democratic leaders to extend jobless benefits at $300 a week through September. It would also ensure that the first $10,200 of jobless benefits would not be taxed.

GOP Senator Roger Wicker gives reporters “the scoop from the cloakroom,” which is that Manchin is done negotiating, and Democrats will have to deal with him voting for the Portman amendment. He says senior Democrats have accepted this, but not Biden and Schumer.

12.01am GMT

Now nearly a year into the Covid crisis, a staggering 40% of Americans report that the pandemic has had a lingering impact on their pocketbooks.

The surveys, reflected in new report released today by the Pew Research Center, are just the latest evidence that inequalities already existing in the US were only compounded by the crisis. Minorities and low-income earners were the hardest hit by job losses and instability over the past year.

48% of lower-income Americans in households that have lost income during the pandemic have taken on debt to help make ends meet.

Lower-income adults, as well as Hispanic and Asian Americans and adults younger than 30, are among the most likely to say they or someone in their household has lost a job or taken a pay cut since the outbreak began in February 2020.1 Among those who’ve had these experiences, lower-income and Black adults are particularly likely to say they have taken on debt or put off paying their bills in order to cover lost wages or salary.”

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