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Live stimulus updates: Senate Democrats reach deal to keep weekly unemployment benefit at $300 per week

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Senate Democrats reached a deal to keep the federal unemployment benefit at $300 per week until September, down from a proposed increase to $400 in President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 stimulus package, according to a Democratic aide.

Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., is expected to introduce an amendment to the $1.9 trillion legislation Friday as the Democrat-controlled Senate considers tweaks to the measure. His proposal will extend the $300 weekly benefit through September. The original bill that passed the House last week upped the weekly amount to $400, but ended the benefit in August.

The added unemployment benefit, currently at $300, has been a contentious point in the bill with Republicans voicing opposition to Democrats’ plans to extend and up the payment amount. Congress faces a countdown to get the stimulus package to Biden by mid-March, when Americans are set to lose the current weekly federal unemployment boost.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., arrives at the Capitol in Washington on Friday.

Both progressive and moderate Democrats agreeing to the amendment comes after moderate Republicans, like Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah., told reporters Thursday he thinks “there would be Republicans who would agree to bring the number down.”

Senate Finance Chair, Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who had been pushing to extend the benefits through September, told reporters that “in this kind of environment, where literally every single Democrat is key, so far the reaction has been positive.”

The first $10,200 of the unemployment benefits will be non-taxable for the first time to prevent surprise bills for the unemployed at the end of year. The agreement also extends tax rules regarding excess business loss limitations for an additional year, through 2026.

– Savannah Behrmann and Nicholas Wu

Senators begin final hours of debate on stimulus bill as Senate crawls towards bill’s final passage

The Senate began its final hours of debate on President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan despite Republican opposition to its final passage.

“We are going to power through and finish this bill, however long it takes,” vowed Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, warning of a lengthy amendment process set to begin midday Friday.

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