Senate eyes 15-day jobless benefit extension

By Tami Luhby, senior writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- With 1.2 million people set to lose their unemployment checks starting next week, the Senate is looking to extend the deadline to file for federal jobless benefits by 15 days.

Lawmakers have yet to set a date to vote on the measure.

Without an extension beyond the Feb. 28 deadline, people receiving state jobless benefits won't be able to apply for additional federally paid unemployment insurance, and anyone already receiving those checks could be cut off. They also won't be able to sign up for the 65% federal subsidy for COBRA unemployment insurance.

Lawmakers were on track in mid-February to introduce legislation that would have extended the deadline for the two benefits to May 31, at a cost of $25 billion over 10 years. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., then decided to offer a slimmed-down job creation package that did not include the provision.

In December, the House passed a $154 billion job creation package that extended the deadline to June 30. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., last week urged her Senate colleagues to pass a more comprehensive jobs measure.

The 15-day extension would give lawmakers more time to enact a longer fix, but it left them the object of scorn from consumer advocates, who want benefits extended through 2010.

"The extended benefits program will be needed for another year at least, so a 15-day extension makes no sense," said Ross Eisenbrey, vice president of the Economic Policy Institute. "Extending the program for only 15 days will force the states to twist themselves into knots to restart the program while simultaneously preparing to shut it down again. This is waste and abuse."

Essential benefits

About 11.5 million people currently depend on jobless benefits. Nearly one in 10 Americans are out of work and a record 41.2% of the jobless have been unemployed for at least six months. The average unemployment period lasts a record 30.2 weeks.

While unemployment benefits now run as long as 99 weeks, depending on the state, not everyone will receive checks for that long a stretch. Those who run out of their 26 weeks of state-paid coverage after Feb. 28 would not be able to apply for federal benefits, unless an extension is approved.

Without an extension, the jobless currently receiving extended federal benefits, who are divided into tiers, would stop getting checks once they complete their tier. To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 18,037.97 -42.17 -0.23%
Nasdaq 5,060.25 -31.84 -0.63%
S&P 500 2,108.92 -8.77 -0.41%
Treasuries 1.92 0.01 0.37%
Data as of 6:31pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Applied Materials In... 19.97 -1.83 -8.39%
Apple Inc 132.65 2.37 1.82%
Bank of America Corp... 15.56 -0.08 -0.51%
Microsoft Corp 48.03 0.16 0.33%
Pfizer Inc 34.59 -0.68 -1.93%
Data as of 4:04pm ET
Sponsors

Sections

If Yankees follow through on threat not to pay A-Rod $6 million for reaching first home run milestone, the union is likely to fight for the money for him. More

A major earthquake was the last thing Nepal needed. Even before one of the country's major fault lines rumbled to life, the country was beset by challenges. More

Tech devices -- from drones to Raspberry Pis -- got a lot of love onstage at the 2015 Matrix Awards honoring powerful women. Here's why. More

A Girl Scouts Cookie Oven rolling out to Wal-Mart, Target, Kmart stores this summer will let you bake those iconic thin mints right at home. More

Imagine having a three-day weekend every week and being paid the same full-time salary. It can be done if your employer offers you the option of a compressed workweek. More