Extended unemployment benefits to end; 1.3M Americans to be affected

The federal government's five-year program of extended unemployment benefits will run out Friday. Congress could not agree on a plan to keep the important safety net for jobless Americans going.

The change will hit about 1.3 million Americans, considered the hardest hit by the Great Recession. CBS News chief White House correspondent Major Garrett said they're the chronically unemployed who are jobless for more than six months.

During the Great Recession, Garrett explained on "CBS This Morning," Congress provided jobless benefits for, in some cases, more than 90 weeks. In some states, that's been cut back to 73 weeks. But on Friday, anyone jobless longer than 26 weeks will receive no benefits at all. The benefit averages just more than $300 a week.

Extending unemployment benefits was not part of the recent budget deal in Congress because Republicans -- particularly in the House -- didn't want to include these benefits without finding some way to pay for it with offsetting cuts, Garrett said.

He said, "It costs about $25 billion to keep these benefits going, and quite honestly, the White House did not put up much of a fight."

A bipartisan Senate bill to extend these benefits for three months does exist, but, Garrett said, that's kind of a temporary fix.

He continued, "President Obama promised that he'll sign that legislation if it gets to his desk. This will be the first item up for debate when Congress returns after the New Year.  Now, if it passes the Senate, its future in the GOP-controlled House is still uncertain, but Democrats have been pounding this issue this week and promised to keep up the pressure." 

For more, watch Garrett's full analysis on "CTM" in the video above.

  • Amanda Cochran

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