A deal on a way forward will be announced soon, source says

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From left, US Sens. Joni Ernst, Lindsey Graham, Roy Blunt and Cindy Hyde-Smith hold a news conference at the Capitol on Friday.
From left, US Sens. Joni Ernst, Lindsey Graham, Roy Blunt and Cindy Hyde-Smith hold a news conference at the Capitol on Friday. Alex Wong/Getty Images

A group of Republican senators called out their fellow Democrats, President Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for being unwilling to allow a vote on what they called a bipartisan amendment that would change the standards for unemployment benefits in the Covid-19 relief package. 

The senators claimed that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer was stalling progress on the vote because there were enough Democrats willing to cross party lines and vote on the GOP proposal instead of the Democratic version.  

“We believe we have some Democrats who read the bill yesterday and found some things they didn’t like sat down with some Republicans to find a better way. And the result is, we’ve done nothing for four hours and 20 minutes,” Senator Lindsay Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, said. He then accused Biden of being part of the hold up. “President Biden, is this the new way of doing business? There’s nothing new about this. He’s been on the phone trying to talk democrats out of working with Republicans to change the unemployment insurance benefits.”

Senate Minority Whip John Thune, a Republican from South Dakota, claimed there could be multiple Democrats willing to support the amendment, proposed by Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman, but Schumer was preventing the vote from being taken. He also claimed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had warned Democratic senators that if the Portman amendment is included, the package will not pass the House.  

“Because there was an amendment that we were prepared to offer they actually had bipartisan support. The Democrats have gone back behind closed doors, and as Senator Graham pointed out, tried to get the President on the line to pressure a couple of people not to work with Republicans.” 

Republican Sens. Joni Ernst and Roy Blunt pointed to the prior successful bills passed to deliver Covid-19 relief prior to Democrats taking control of the House, Senate and White House and said they were disappointed this process had become so partisan.  

“Today we are witnessing a very very unfortunate exercise in partisanship exactly what President Biden preached against on his inauguration day, stating that he would be a president for all Americans. And that bipartisanship would prevail. And yet, we have seen absolutely none of that,” said Ernst. 

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