unemployment

By David Lightman
McClatchy Washington Bureau
December 23, 2013 Updated 18 hours ago

WASHINGTON — A three-month extension of emergency unemployment benefits is gaining momentum.

The Senate is scheduled to take a key procedural vote on that extension when it returns Jan. 6, and the plan has White House as well as some bipartisan support. The Republican-run House of Representatives has been more reluctant to go along.

Democrats plan to spend the holidays pushing hard to get an extension. While regular unemployment benefits will continue, emergency aid for 1.3 million long-term jobless will expire Dec. 28. In high-unemployment states, workers can get as many as 73 weeks of benefits.

The cutoff is “particularly poignant and nearly devastating as we go into the Christmas holidays,” House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California told reporters Monday.

Some Republicans agreed. Sens. Dean Heller, R-Nev., and Jack Reed, D-R.I., are chief sponsors of the three-month extension, which would be retroactive.

“Providing a safety net for those in need is one of the most important functions of the federal government,” Heller said.

His state and Reed’s have the greatest need for the extra help. Last month, Nevada and Rhode Island both had jobless rates of 9 percent, well above the national average of 7 percent. Some 4.1 million people have been out of work 26 or more weeks. A total of 10.9 million were unemployed last month.

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