Everything Suddenly Goes Cattywampus In COVID Relief Debate. (Yeah, It's Joe Manchin.)
The Senate's consideration of the $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill appears to have gone off the rails this afternoon, with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) apparently giving serious thought to a really bad Republican amendment on emergency unemployment that would almost certainly be unacceptable to most other Senate Democrats.
Jesus Christ, Joe, we thought we already told you to just pass the goddamned thing. You never listen to us. Is it personal?
As we noted earlier today, Senate Dems had already accepted one change from the House version of the stimulus bill. Instead of increasing the emergency supplemental unemployment insurance to $400 a week until the end of August, the compromise would keep the payments at $300 a week (on top of whatever state unemployment insurance benefits someone's getting), but keep the benefit running until the end of September.
That state unemployment payment could be as low as $235 a week.
It would also make the first $10,300 of unemployment benefits tax-free, to avoid tax-time surprises for people who lost jobs during the pandemic. That amendment was introduced in the Senate by Delaware Democrat Tom Carper.
Manchin, however, seems to have dragged the entire "vote-a-rama" process to a halt — for hours! — because he's mulling over whether to support a competing amendment by Ohio Republican Rob Portman, which not only maintains the $300 payments, but expires in the middle of JULY FOR FUCKSSAKE and also doesn't include the tax relief.
What the fuck is Manchin thinking? We know he's been talking about only wanting "targeted" assistance to people harmed by the pandemic, but how the holy blessed mother of all fucks does wiping out two and a half months of eligibility for people who have lost their jobs "target" the most deserving poor? Remember, to keep unemployment benefits coming, people do have to show that they're looking for a job already.
Sorry kids, this just stinks to high heaven.
Portman says he thinks he's got Manchin on his side, even:
Portman told reporters that he believes he can get the support of all 50 senators and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to vote for his proposal.
"I think so," Portman said, asked if he has the entire GOP caucus and Manchin.
Well hey, that seems like a fine way to make things more targeted: Blow the whole thing up. Portman, we should note, has already announced that he won't run for reelection, so he appears to be aiming to cut unemployment benefits during a pandemic because he genuinely thinks it's a good idea. And so, apparently, does Manchin, who reportedly was "bristling" over the Carper amendment. Apparently he's somehow not happy about the benefits being tax-free?
The Manchin surprise: - Dems fear he'll back the GOP plan to pare back jobless benefits - GOP working to line up s… https://t.co/dtoQTtjFNu— Manu Raju (@Manu Raju) 1614975866.0
Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R- South Dakota) seemed downright giddy at the Dems In Disarray:
The question is, from the Democrats' standpoint, is how do they prevent us from getting a win. [...] They've essentially stopped action on the floor so that they can try and persuade all of their members to stay together on some of these votes. I think they're afraid that they could lose on [unemployment benefits].
Does Manchin think maybe the Republicans who have so far been willing to vote for him will cheer his brave decision to cut their unemployment benefits? We really don't get it. And maybe Manchin doesn't, either.
The fact that this is taking 4+ hours to resolve means that Manchin doesn't even know what he wants. He wants to be… https://t.co/qvc4I8Qc7S— Alex Singer (@Alex Singer) 1614976254.0
However it turns out, we have to be very very nice to him all the same, so he won't decide to switch parties and wish the Democratic majority into a cornfield.
Yes, Joe, your fiscal restraint is just the best. It sure is fine. You really are a hero.
The situation, as they say, is fluid. We'll keep you updated.
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