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Jobless Benefits Package Unlikely To Be Passed

Laura Cueva |
November 16, 2010 | 12:48 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter

Workers protest against cutting jobless benefits. (Creative Commons)
Workers protest against cutting jobless benefits. (Creative Commons)
Worries about excessive government spending and a lame-duck Congress currently awaiting the Republican majority are likely to mean an end to jobless benefits for over 2 million unemployed workers once the program begins to lapse in two weeks.

Democrats are fighting for a compromise in order to renew the program before Christmas. The Party is backed by economists, who say cutting off benefits could negatively impact the economy by reducing consumer spending.

The program was last extended during the summer, but benefits lapsed for over a month as Congress came to a decision. The program provides aid for laid-off employees for up to 99 weeks after their termination.

Republicans worry that the program will add to the deficit, but the party is split in their opposition. Many agree that for now, any extension would have to be funded.

Democrats are weighing their options and are willing to reduce some of the aid if a compromise can be reached. Compromises currently on the table include extending the program for a year, but reducing the number of weeks in which aid is provided.

A Senior Republican in the House of Representatives said he would back the extension of jobless benefits if the Bush-era tax cuts, which provide cuts for some of the wealthiest groups, are also extended.

“What we're going to do is sit down and talk with Mrs. Pelosi,” Representative Pete Sessions, a Republican Congressman, told Reuters. “I see nothing wrong with her winning as long as the American people do.”

President Obama has asked congressional leaders to meet with him on Thursday in order to discuss tax cuts, but new legislation is not expected to be voted on until after Thanksgiving at the earliest.

Approximately 800,000 laid-off employees will be affected by the lapse in benefits, which will begin on Nov. 30. By December, that number is expected to increase to at least 2 million, as the nation struggles with unemployment rates as high as 10 percent.

Reach reporter Laura Cueva here. Follow her on Twitter @lecccueva.



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