Big city mayors press for jobless benefits renewal

More than a dozen mayors are pressing Congress to restore a federal unemployment benefits program. 

In a letter written to House and Senate leaders, the mayors of 13 of the nation's largest cities said, "as mayors, we feel the tremendous impact of this expiration as our constituents do not get the help they need."

While they argue the economy is strengthening, "the new year did not immediately create new jobs or strengthen the economy in any way that guarantees employment for all Americans searching for work."

The Senate left town last week without a resolution between Democrats and Republicans.

House and Senate GOP leaders are pushing for any renewal to be paid for — $6.4 billion for a three-month restoration — and include reforms to the program to include job training initiatives.  

Congressional Democrats, most of whom have said any continuation of the program should be considered emergency spending, said they would consider reasonable offsets to cover the costs of the program. 

As negotiations continue and the federal program remains in limbo, Democrats argue that more than 70,000 of the long-term unemployed are losing benefits each week, as they exhaust the up to 26 weeks provided by the states. 

"Long-term unemployment remains a pressing issue for our cities and the nation," the mayors wrote. 

"Extending unemployment insurance is the right thing to do for our fellow Americans, and it will benefit our local, regional and national economies."

Earlier this month, 14 governors pushed to restore the benefits, which expired Dec. 28. 

Mayors from Los Angeles, San Francisco; Phoenix; St. Louis; Columbus, Ohio; Tucson, Ariz.; San Diego; Atlanta; Philadelphia; Sacramento, Calif.; San Jose, Calif.; Baltimore and Portland, Ore., signed the letter.