Unemployment Benefits

Sen. Harry Reid Cautiously Optimistic About Unemployment Compromise

Would provide 31 additional weeks in exchange for cuts elsewhere

|

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid expressed optimism Thursday about chances for compromise on jobless legislation, and officials said talks were focused on a scaled-back program that is fully paid for and would provide up to 31 weeks of benefits for the long-term unemployed.

The officials said the emerging compromise would run through the late fall, and the price tag — approximately $18 billion — would be offset through cuts elsewhere in the budget so deficits would not rise.

Rank and file senators in both parties were reviewing the proposal in closed-door noontime meetings.

The Senate has been working on a three-month resurrection of a program that expired on Dec. 28, immediately cutting off benefits of roughly $256 weekly for more than one million hurt by the recession.