Reed offers three-month unemployment insurance extension

Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) called on the Senate to vote for at least a three-month extension of unemployment insurance before leaving for the holiday.

“This safety net is really there not just for [the unemployed] but everyone,” Reed said on the Senate floor Tuesday. “It is critical for our economy.”

Some liberal lawmakers are upset that Congress is set to adjourn for the year without extending unemployment insurance benefits that expire Dec. 28. 

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Reed said if unemployment insurance isn’t extended, it could result in a .2 percent loss in gross domestic product (GDP) growth.

Last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said unemployment insurance would be one of the first things the Senate takes up when it returns in January.

But Reed said the Senate could take up a bill he introduced that would extend the benefit for just three months.

“In 11 days 1.3 million Americans will lose their unemployment insurance,” Reed said. “For the millions of people still looking for work, they need this help.”

The Department of Labor has estimated that nearly 1.3 million people will lose their Emergency Unemployment Compensation after Dec. 28 if Congress doesn’t act. 

Even if the Senate found room in a busy final schedule, the House won't return to act on unemployment insurance until the new year. House Republicans are expected to insist on spending cuts to offset the cost of extending the benefits.

The program was established to help people who have been out of work for longer than their state unemployment benefits last — on average six months.