House Democrats estimate $3 billion cost to economy because of jobless benefits lapse

House Democrats estimated on Tuesday that expiration of a federal jobless benefits program has cost the economy billions so far this year.

Members of the House Ways and Means Committee released a state-by-state analysis that projects the economy is losing $3 billion in stimulus in January and February because of the Dec. 28 expiration of the emergency benefits program.

“The loss of long-term unemployment benefits is weighing down our economy at a critical point in the economic recovery, threatening to inflict long-term damage,” said Sandy Levin (D-Mich.), ranking member of the Ways and Means panel.

"Long-term unemployment remains an enormous challenge for millions of Americans and our overall economy, which is exactly why Republicans should join with Democrats to renew this important program."

Democrats argue that more than 1.8 million Americans have now lost or been cut off from the federal unemployment insurance.

A group of Senate Democrats and Republicans have failed since the beginning of the year to work out an agreement.

Congress returns from a weeklong break on Monday.

The projections are based on the total federal benefits during the last two months.