Support for Bipartisan Jobless Benefits Amendment Grinds Senate to a Halt

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VIDEO:  Hyde-Smith Appeals for Bipartisanship on COVID Legislation.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) on Friday appealed for a bipartisan COVID-19 relief package as Senate Democrats stopped floor action in an effort to quash a bipartisan amendment on unemployment benefits.

“You know, when I got here, I intended to come and work with everybody in this building, and I’m still willing to work with everybody in this building,” Hyde-Smith said at a news conference during an ongoing stall now headed past its seventh hour.

“The employers in Mississippi have voiced to me their need for this unemployment amendment because they need their people to be at work.  We have got to get past this COVID epidemic.  We’ve got to let the basic fundamentals of economics work so everybody can have the dignity of the job,” she said.

Pointing to bipartisan work on five previous coronavirus bills since March 2020, the Mississippi Senator asked her Democratic colleagues to abandon their effort to force through a strictly partisan package stuffed with non-COVID items.

“We can do this one just the way we did the others.  Let’s move forward.  Let’s get this in a position where we can be proud of this bill instead of having to be right here wasting the time of the American people while the clock ticks,” she said.

The Senate came into session Friday morning expecting to begin a “vote-a-rama” amendment process to the Democrat’s $1.9 trillion bill.

Democratic leadership stopped work when there appeared to be sufficient bipartisan support to pass an amendment to lower federal unemployment benefits to $300 a week from $400, extended through mid-July.  U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business support the amendment.

Among the bill changes supported by Hyde-Smith is her own amendment (SA.971) to extend USDA aid to agriculture producers affected by disasters and to ensure U.S. catfish and seafood are included in USDA commodity help for foodbanks and families.