WASHINGTON — Lawmakers took to the airwaves Sunday to argue about extending long-term unemployment benefits for 1.3 million Americans who were cut off last month, a politically sensitive issue in an election year.
Democrats urged their Republican counterparts to join in granting emergency unemployment benefits.
Senate Majority Leader
"It's the right thing to do," Reid said. "We have long-term unemployment. That's why the American people support this."
A bipartisan proposal by Sens.
The measure faces a test vote Monday. Reed expects to get the 60 votes needed to open floor debate, but prospects for getting the bill through the Republican-led House are dim.
The federal government and the states jointly provide up to 26 weeks of unemployment benefits, paid from employer payroll taxes, to people who lose their jobs. During periods of high unemployment,
But last year, with a bitterly divided Congress refusing to step in, anyone who was collecting unemployment for more than 26 weeks lost benefits Dec. 28.
About 1.3 million people were immediately affected, and millions more were expected to reach the limit this year. Unless Congress acts, the Obama administration estimates that 4.9 million people could lose benefits by the end of 2014.
California, Nevada, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New