Congress Says "No" to Extending Unemployment Benefits

The 107th Congress officially adjourned on Friday, November 22, and, in doing so, squashed the last chance unemployed workers had this year to secure a needed additional extension of their unemployment benefits. The extension of these benefits will expire on December 28.

During a healthier economy, unemployment benefits are usually provided for 26 weeks. Through a provision in this year’s economic stimulus package, however, Congress extended these benefits for an additional 13 weeks. When this provision expires on December 28, 830,000 unemployed workers will immediately lose their benefits, according to estimates provided by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).

Despite the entreaties of many advocates, unemployed workers and economists, the House and Senate were unable to reach agreement on their different proposals for extending the benefits. The Senate’s plan, which passed in a unanimous vote, would have provided the extended benefits for an additional 3 months. The House plan would have extended benefits for only 5 weeks, and even then only to workers in a handful of states with the highest unemployment rates. Since no agreement was reached, the current extension of unemployment benefits will expire next month and there will be no chance to reinstate this extension until Congress reconvenes January 7.

See CBPP for more on this issue.

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