WASHINGTON, D.C. – The new year will bring an end to extended unemployment benefits for approximately 1.3 million Americans, unless Congress acts to extend the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program.
While it began at the end of President George W. Bush’s term to ease the impact of the Great Recession, House Republicans have little desire to continue the program that helps workers who have been unemployed for more than six months.
“These have been extraordinary extensions, and the Republican position all along has been ‘we need to go back to normal here at some point,'” said Oklahoma Republican Rep. Tom Cole said.
However, House Democrats are demanding to make the unemployment extension issue a key part of the budget deal negotiations.
“[W]e are making a very clear statement that we cannot, cannot support a budget agreement that does not include unemployment insurance in the budget or as a sidebar in order to move it all along,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said at a hearing she held on unemployment benefits today. “It would undermine who we are as a country.”
A state-funded unemployment compensation program provides New Jersey workers with 26 weeks of benefits. Under the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, long-term unemployed New Jersey workers are eligible for an additional 37 weeks of benefits.
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