GOP Pushing to End Federal Unemployment Benefits

Friday, 06 Dec 2013 01:31 PM

By Melissa Clyne

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Republicans are lobbying to put an end to federal unemployment benefits, saying the falling unemployment rate doesn’t justify keeping the program, The Hill reports.

The economy added 203,000 jobs in November, well above the 180,000 economists expected, according to Forbes. The unemployment rate dropped to 7 percent from 7.3 percent in October.

“Today’s report includes positive signs that should discourage calls for more emergency government stimulus,” Republican House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement shortly after the release of the figures. “Instead, what our economy needs is more pro-growth solutions that get government out of the way.”

The GOP’s posture lays the groundwork for a battle with Democrats and the White House, which argue that the economy still lacks the strength to slash federal benefits.

“Christmas-time is no time for Congress to tell more than 1 million of these Americans that they have lost this unemployment insurance," President Obama said. "(That's) what will happen if Congress does not act before they leave on their holiday vacation."

About 1.3 million people who have been without a job for at least six months will be affected if Congress doesn’t extend the program by Dec. 31. An additional 850,000 would lose their benefits in the first quarter of 2014, with a total of 4.8 million being taken off the rolls by the end of next year.

So far the program has cost the country $252 billion.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi pledged that Democrats will continue to seek to extend the federal program, which was introduced in June 2008.

Federal benefits are meant to help the long-term unemployed and kick in after state unemployment benefits are exhausted.

The largest employment gains in November were in transportation and warehousing, according to Forbes, adding 31,000 jobs for couriers, truck transportation and warehouse storage. At least one expert says those gains could be attributed to holiday and temporary employment.

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