The White House on the eve of unemployment benefits expiring for 1.3 million Americans called on lawmakers to extend the federal aid for three months once they return to Washington.
“As the president has repeatedly made clear, it defies economic sense, precedent and our values to allow 1.3 million Americans fighting to find jobs to see their unemployment insurance abruptly cut off — especially in the middle of the holiday season,” said Gene Sperling, President Obama’s top economic adviser.
“Never before have we abruptly cut off emergency unemployment insurance when we faced this level of long-term unemployment and it would be a blow to these families and our economy,” Sperling added.
Unemployment benefits are set to expire for 1.3 million Americans Saturday after lawmakers could not coalesce behind an agreement on the subsidies as part of a broader budget agreement. The average monthly stipend for families is $1,166.
A bipartisan bill sponsored by Sens. Jack Reed, D-R.I., and Dean Heller, R-Nev., would extend the unemployment benefits for three months and is expected to receive a Senate vote in early January.
Some Republicans have balked at the extension of such benefits, however, arguing that they keep Americans perpetually unemployed and limit their motivation to return to the workforce.
Obama on Friday took a break from his Hawaii vacation to call both Reed and Heller and voice support for the bipartisan bill.
“The president strongly encourages both the Democratic and Republican congressional leadership and their members,” Sperling said, “to support this bipartisan solution and to pass the Reed-Heller bill."