After months of uncertainty, an extension of unemployment benefits for 2.3 million Americans remains in limbo.
The House in July passed a job training bill approved by the Senate in June. It now heads to Pres. Obama's desk. The bill would expedite federal job-training programs and allow private employers more say in which programs get funded -- a way of controlling for programs providing the most useful skills.
House lawmakers introduced a bill to extend unemployment benefits for 5 months. The bill does not offer retroactive payments for people who stopped receiving benefits at the end of 2013 but does give referrals to re-employment services programs. Its chances of being passed by the House remain unclear.
The Senate approved a bipartisan bill 59 to 38 on April 7 to extend unemployment insurance for 5 months. The bill's prospects in the House are dim, as Republicans in that chamber have expressed opposition. Senators said prior to passage that they were willing to make changes to get the bill approved in the House.
Congress did not include an extension of unemployment benefits as part of a bipartisan budget deal crafted by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA). The states most affected by the expiration are Nevada, California, Illinois, Georgia, and New Jersey.
According to some economists, cutting off unemployment benefits is exacerbating economic problems by significantly reducing the spending of millions of Americans on everything from basic supplies to fuel. Others believe overly generous benefits serve as a disincentive for people to find work.
President Obama, citing inaction in Congress to pass an extension of unemployment benefits, on Jan. 31 launched an effort with CEOs from 300 companies to help hire people who have been out of work for more than six months.
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