At the end of December, unemployment insurance benefits for the long-term jobless ended. Since then, discussions have raged on in Congress about appropriate changes and other measures to ensure financial assistance for those who can’t find work.

A lack of a clear direction has put a strain on employers across the country, as well as the unemployed Americans left searching for an adequate answer. However, recent changes to a proposed bill could spark a breakthrough in Congress, leading to a new aid program and a renewal of insurance benefits.

Key changes encourage bipartisan agreement
On Thursday, March 13, Senators reached a bipartisan agreement that would jumpstart federal unemployment insurance benefits and renew payments to the long-term jobless who have been without since December.

According to The Washington Post, several key changes to the proposed bill sparked the potential deal. One is a new requirement for additional job training for the long-term unemployed, and another would cancel benefits for workers who had a gross income of greater than $1 million the previous year.

“There are a lot of good people looking for work, and I am pleased we’re finally able to reach a strong, bipartisan consensus to get them some help,” Sen. Jack Reed, of Rhode Island, said in a statement. “Restoring this much needed economic lifeline will help job seekers, boost our economy, and provide a little certainty to families, businesses, and the markets that Congress is capable of coming together to do the right thing.”

Vote would wait until late March
While this recent Senate session led to an agreement among attendees about the proposed unemployment insurance bill, any official vote may have to wait until late March due to a scheduled recess, according to CBS News. However, the fact that a number of changes to the legislation have been discussed is good news overall.

At the moment, the bill states that payment for the renewed benefits would come from several spending reductions, including pension smoothing, the media outlet reported. If it passes, companies would then be able to use historic interest rate averages to determine pension contributions. In addition, other changes recommended by various Senators would improve the aid given to long-term unemployed on a more individual level. Ideally, any legislation would be designed to help people find desirable employment opportunities.

The past vote on the unemployment insurance bill failed by a small margin. Now that additional support has been gained, there is a better chance that the bill will pass the next time it hits the Senate floor.


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