Republican House Cancels Unemployment Insurance for 1.3 Million American Workers and Heads Home for the Holidays
A Lifeline Just Ran Out For 1.3 Million Unemployed People
On Saturday, federal unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed will expire, leaving 1.3 million people without the support they’ve been relying on as they have searched for new work for about six months or longer.
The federal program kicked in for those who exhausted their state-level benefits, which usually run out at around 26 weeks. But Congress failed to reauthorize the program before the end of the year, as it has 11 times since it was first enacted in June 2008 under President George W. Bush, so those benefits have run out. Another 850,000 workers who will exhaust their state benefits and would have turned to the federal program in the next three months will also be left without support. In total, more than 4 million people have been out of a job for more than 27 weeks, making up nearly 40 percent of all the unemployed.
President Obama called for Congress to pass an emergency extension of the program from his vacation on Friday, but Congress is in recess so any action will have to wait for the new year. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has said an extension will be the top issue for his chamber when Congress returns on January 6 and other Democrats have made a noisy push for reauthorizing the program. Yet Republicans have indicated they may not support extending it despite the fact that many used to be in favor of the long-term benefits.
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