This weekend, millions of Americans are suddenly going to stop receiving their unemployment benefits. The extended federal benefits plan expires this Saturday, the 28th, forcing 1.3 million to go without a source of income.
These long-term federal benefits were created by President Bush in the recession of 2008, and since then have been extended 11 more times. The most recent extension allowed for a total of 73 weeks of government assistance. But last week, Congress failed to extend the benefits plan any further.
Federal long-term benefits kick in after the state’s unemployment benefits have run out. On average, long-term unemployment runs from 14 to 47 weeks. The typical weekly benefit check is $300. Which is roughly the pay of a full-time job at minimum wage. The Obama administration says these weekly checks were enough to keep 11 million Americans above the poverty line and supported roughly 17 million children. And now, that source of reliable income is gone.
So how long will these long-unemployed have to live without benefits? According to CNN, senators will bring it to vote as soon as they are back from recess. A majority of Democrats have pushed for another extension but are facing opposition from Republicans, forcing a stalemate.
For the good of the economy we must extend unemployment benefits that Americans rely on as they search for work. It’s the right thing to do.
— Senator Tim Kaine (@timkaine) December 28, 2013
The benefit extension plan isn’t cheap: according to the Congressional Budget Office, the cost to extend the federal benefits by another year is around $26 billion. But many argue that the extra money helps stimulate the economy, as families use their checks for groceries, shopping, and paying the bills. President Obama supports extension of the plan, calling on Congress to make temporary extension their “first order of business” in 2014. Obama has said that he would sign a proposal “right away,” but with the stalemate between Republicans and Democrats, prospects for immediately passing the bill seem weak.
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