After several failed votes in the Senate, an extension of unemployment benefits for 1.3 million Americans continues in limbo.
During a procedural vote Feb. 6, the Senate failed to advance a bill to extend unemployment benefits for three months. The Senate voted 58 to 40 in favor of the bill, and was unable to get the 60 votes needed to advance the bill. Four Republican Senators joined Democrats voting for the bill.
Bills in mid-January that would have paid for extending benefits for 1.3 million Americans also failed. Recent polls show a majority of American support extending unemployment benefits.
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 can exacerbate 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.
In Jan. 2013, 2 million long-term unemployed people got their unemployment benefits extended as part of the bill passed in Congress on Jan. 1, 2013, to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff." The program was at a low of 2 million recipients, down from 6 million in 2010.
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 6 months.
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