House Democrats push for extension of jobless benefits

Without action, people who qualify for the federal benefits due to being unemployed for more than six months would stop receiving weekly checks at the end of December.

“While our primary concern remains growing more jobs, we should provide reasonable assistance to those actively seeking work, yet still unable to secure a job,” said Doggett, the top Democrat on the House subcommittee on Human Resources.

The analysis released by Ways and Means found that about five million Americans have been out of work for six months or longer, with many ineligible for state or federal benefits. 

An agreement forged in February has gradually reduced the maximum number of weeks from 99 to 73 this year, which includes between 20 and 26 weeks of aid provided by states. 

The amount of benefits vary by state, based primarly on the unemployment rates. 

Some states will bottom out at a maximum of 40 weeks for the final months of the year. 

Advocates expect the battle over unemployment aid to again be contentious, with many lawmakers reluctant to spend federal dollars amid a national employment rate that stands at 7.9 percent.

— This story was updated 4:20 p.m.

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