UPDATE: Republicans in the House have blocked a bill that would have extended unemployment benefits until the end of February, the Associated Press reports.
Two Democratic senators urged Congress to extend unemployment benefits for another year Wednesday, but no vote has been scheduled and the annual Thanksgiving recess is only days away.
“We are still in the process of trying to establish the schedule of the lame duck session, in terms of the remaining days of the session, so no specifics, but think we all understand that this is something that is going to have to be done,” Senator Jack Reed said (D-RI) during a conference call.
“Congress must act now to preserve unemployment insurance for the two million Americans and 83,000 Pennsylvanians who will lose this financial lifeline at the end of the month,” Senator Robert Casey (D-PA) added. “Doing nothing will hurt millions of Americans, job creation and the economic recovery.”
The temporary extension of unemployment benefits are set to expire November 30th and nearly two million job-seeking Americans are expected to lose their benefits in December.
If no benefit extension is passed, an additional several hundred thousand unemployed workers are expected to lose their benefits every month thereafter.
“At this point it’s not been scheduled,” Reed said. “We’re trying to make a case that there will be action but at this point I can’t point to a specific time it will come up for a vote this week.”
The Thanksgiving recess begins November 22nd and ends on the 26th, giving Congress until this Friday to pass an extension before the recess begins.
“Republicans are trying to re-write economics and reality,” Reed said. “They want to provide $700 billion in tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, but not pay for them. At the same time, they are demanding that emergency unemployment benefits for middle-class folks be fully paid for.”
“That is a little like the dieter who orders a Diet Coke and a Big Mac.”
On Wednesday, a bill was introduced to the House of Representatives that would extend the deadline to file for federal unemployment benefits to February 28th.
“Terminating this emergency unemployment assistance will not only devastate families, but it also will hurt the entire economy by depressing consumer confidence and demand,” said Representative Sander Levin (D-MI), who is introducing the bill. “We simply cannot afford to conclude this Congress without responding to those Americans who have been most hurt by the recession.”
Although Democrats believe the House will be able to pass the bill, Republicans are expected to block it in the Senate.