Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks to reporters in the U.S. Capitol on Capitol Hill in Washington on February 10, 2021.

Al Drago | Reuters

Senate Democrats have agreed to cut the weekly unemployment insurance premium in their $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill, but extend it for a longer period.

However, West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin reportedly hesitated to endorse the policies that threw the chamber into chaos on Friday and delayed his party’s efforts to pass the laws. The first in a long series of votes – a failed attempt by Vermont independent Senator Bernie Sanders to set a minimum wage of $ 15 an hour – continued after six hours as the Senators decided how to proceed.

Manchin reportedly considered sponsoring a plan by Senator Rob Portman, R-Ohio. The GOP legislature change would set an unemployment benefit of $ 300 per week through July 18, a shorter duration than the Democrats are seeking.

Democrats want to change their unemployment programs on Friday during a marathon of votes on amendments known as Vote-a-Rama. Senator Tom Carper, D-Del., Should propose the plan.

The change would keep the federal unemployment benefit surcharge at its current level of $ 300 per week, rather than increasing it to $ 400 as was the case with a bill passed by the House. The change would hold the policy until September rather than ending on August 29 as the House’s plan did.

The proposal would also make the first $ 10,200 in unemployment insurance untaxed. The provision is intended to prevent unexpected tax burdens for beneficiaries.

The move to unemployment benefits appeared to be an attempt to appease various members of the democratic caucus. The party cannot lose a vote and still win a simple majority, the baseline, which is needed for the budget vote in the chamber, is divided evenly between parties.

The $ 100 a week cut in unemployment benefits seemed like a concession to the most conservative Democrats. Party leaders have already agreed to limit the number of people who would receive direct payments of $ 1,400 amid Manchin and others raised concerns about the direction of the checks.

The expansion of supplemental unemployment benefits should also appeal to the senators, led by Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden, who worried that millions of Americans would suddenly lose financial support when the unemployment benefits programs expired in August. The provisions on increasing unemployment benefits and extending the right to unemployment benefit once became obsolete last summer. Congress only renewed it in December.

Wyden has called for unemployment benefits to be tied to economic conditions so it doesn’t expire before the economy recovers. Some Republicans have spoken out against the relief bill, claiming a $ 400 weekly rise in unemployment would keep people from returning to work. They made the same argument when lawmakers approved a $ 600 per week allowance last year, but some research suggests the policy would not have a material impact on people who choose to look for work.

Democrats want to approve their latest bailout before March 14, the day the current $ 300 a week unemployment benefit expires. However, the delays on Friday threatened the expiry of the deadline.

Senate Democrats hope to pass the bill by next weekend. Republicans can drag the process out because there is no limit to the number of changes they can offer to the plan.

The House intends to approve the Senate version of the plan by next week and send it to President Joe Biden to sign the bill.

– CNBC’s Ylan Mui contributed to this report

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