Senators struck a bipartisan deal on Thursday to revive expired long-term jobless benefits following months of dramatic stops and starts on the issue.
After an afternoon of frantic negotiations, five senators from each party announced a deal that should finally deliver 60 votes necessary for the aid package to pass the Senate, barring procedural snags.
The behind-the-scenes horse-trading was so furious that the deal was not finalized until minutes before the 4:15 p.m. announcement. Many senators were unaware that their colleagues had just struck an agreement on jobless aid that has evaded the Senate for weeks.
The negotiations were led by Sens. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.), each hailing from states with high unemployment. They were joined by GOP Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, Rob Portman of Ohio and Mark Kirk of Illinois and Democratic Sens. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Dick Durbin of Illinois.
Buy-in from progressive Democrats like Booker, Brown and Merkley illustrates a broad well of Democratic support for the bill, which lawmakers hope can prematurely quell any rebellion by liberals over concerns that too much was given to the GOP.