Asked by a reporter what ultimately got him behind the eleventh-hour compromise with his party on unemployment benefits, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia said:
“We just had to negotiate. That’s the whole thing. The bad thing about reconciliation is there’s not really time to really work things out and negotiate a lot. So we started negotiating, it took longer than it should have, but we got it done and we got a better deal.”
Manchin was the only Democratic senator who did not sign off on the jobless benefits deal at the beginning of the day on Friday. Instead, he signaled support for an alternative, less generous proposal put forward by Republican Sen. Rob Portman.
After a long negotiation, and with a flurry of other amendments to consider, Manchin finally agreed to extend $300 weekly unemployment benefits through Sept. 6, about a month earlier than what Democrats had envisioned. The West Virginia Democrat also limited a provision to make the first $10,200 in benefits nontaxable apply only to households making less than $150,000.
The gavel finally went down on the first amendment vote of the Senate vote-a-rama, 11 hours and 50 minutes after it began, making it the longest roll call vote in recent Senate history.