$319 billion in jobless benefits over last three years
Unemployed Americans have collected $319 billion in jobless benefits over the past three years due to the federal government's unprecedented response to the Great Recession, according to a CNNMoney analysis of federal records.
The cost of such benefits will be central to the heated debate in Congress in coming weeks over whether to extend this safety net for the fifth time this year. Lawmakers must act by Nov. 30 or two million people will start losing extended benefits next month.
The federal government has already footed $109 billion of the bill, and lawmakers are super-sensitive to adding further to the deficit. But advocates are turning up the pressure to extend the deadline to file for federal benefits. . . .
UPDATE: The House proposal that Democrats limited to only one option was defeated.
House Republicans Thursday torpedoed a bill to extend benefits for the long-term unemployed, pressing their demand that the $12 billion cost of continuing the program be offset rather than adding to the deficit. . . .
In a defeat for Democrats trying to keep the program from expiring Nov. 30, the House rejected a bill to continue the program for three more months.
Lawmakers in both parties expect a compromise eventually to be reached—but not until December, after the current program expires. Without an extension, 800,000 unemployed workers will lose their benefits by Nov. 30 and two million by the end of December. A similar lapse in benefits occurred last summer as Congress struggled to break another impasse. . . .
Agreement also eluded the two parties on a plan for extended unemployment benefits. The program provides aid for up to 99 weeks to many workers who are laid off, by adding to the maximum of 26 weeks of benefits offered through most state programs.
Members of both parties say they want to extend the benefits, and a majority backed the legislation in the 258-154 vote Thursday, which included 143 Republicans voting against it and 21 in favor. The bill failed after Democratic leaders had brought it to the floor under fast-track procedures that require a two-thirds majority for passage. . . . .