Some 1.3 million Americans could lose their unemployment benefits at the end of the year, with another 850,000 seeing benefits expire in March 2014 if Congress doesn't extend an emergency plan that ends Dec. 31. And though congressional Democrats and the White House are urging an extension, it's not looking likely, the New York Times reports. With Congress adjourning in two weeks, it remains unable to agree on a budget, and negotiators are focused on sequestration cuts. A deal to adjust or replace those cuts wouldn't be likely to include a jobless benefit extension, the Times notes.
Renewal of the program through 2014 would add some $25 billion to the $250 billion it has cost so far. But without an extension, a total of 4.8 million could lose benefits by the end of next year, says top White House economic adviser Gene Sperling: "Historically, there has not been a time where the unemployment rate has been this high where you have not extended it." Currently, some 4.1 million Americans have been unemployed for at least six months, reports the Washington Post, which has details of the program. John Boehner's stance on the White House's call for renewal: "If and when they offer details, we'll take a look," an aide tells Reuters.