Senator introduces bill to extend jobless benefits

By Ben Rooney, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- A Democrat-sponsored bill to extend unemployment benefits through 2011 was introduced in the Senate Monday, but it is likely to face stiff opposition from Republicans.

The bill's sponsor, Senator Max Baucus, D-Mont., said in a statement that the proposed legislation would reauthorize benefits for nearly 800,000 out-of-work Americans who are about to exhaust their benefits next week.

Should Congress extend the deadline to file for up to 99 weeks in unemployment benefits?
  • Yes
  • No
  • Not sure

The $56.4 billion measure would also extend benefits for 2 million more Americans facing the same fate by the end of the year, he said.

"Unemployment benefits are the only lifeline many workers in Montana and across the nation have left in this tough economy," said Baucus. "These benefits help millions of Americans put food on the table and roofs over their heads -- pumping money into our economy and helping to create jobs."

However, the bill could face heavy resistance from Republican lawmakers, who are reluctant to pass measures that increase the nation's deficit. The federal government has already spent $109 billion on jobless benefits over the past three years.

Earlier this month, the House failed to pass a bill that would have given the unemployed three more months to file for extended jobless benefits.

The $12.5 billion House bill would have extended the deadline to file for federal unemployment benefits to Feb. 28, sparing 4 million people from falling off the rolls. The deadline is currently Nov. 30.

Federal jobless payments, which last up to 73 weeks, kick in after the state-funded 26 weeks of coverage expire. These federal benefits are divided into tiers, and the jobless must apply each time they move into a new tier.

Congress has extended the deadline to file those applications four times in the past year. The last jobless benefits extension -- which lasted six months and cost $34 billion -- faced a lot of opposition on deficit-conscious Capitol Hill before it finally passed in mid-July.

Roughly 14.8 million Americans are unemployed, with about 6.2 million of them out of work for at least 27 weeks. About 8.5 million people are collecting unemployment insurance.

As the nation's lackluster economic recovery grinds on, a growing number of the jobless are exhausting their benefits. Precise numbers are hard to come by, but estimates show that about 3.5 million people have fallen off the rolls, though some of them have landed work.

-- CNNMoney.com senior writer Tami Luhby contributed to this report.  To top of page

Just the hot list include
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 24,462.94 -201.95 -0.82%
Nasdaq 7,146.13 -91.93 -1.27%
S&P 500 2,670.14 -22.99 -0.85%
Treasuries 2.95 0.04 1.27%
Data as of 7:51pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
General Electric Co 14.54 0.55 3.93%
Bank of America Corp... 30.26 0.08 0.27%
Apple Inc 165.72 -7.08 -4.10%
Ford Motor Co 10.82 -0.14 -1.28%
Advanced Micro Devic... 9.99 -0.12 -1.19%
Data as of Apr 20
Sponsors

Sections

The American newspaper industry says tariffs on Canadian paper could force it to cut jobs, drop pages or print fewer editions. Some are worried that smaller papers might not survive. More

US regulators are close to slapping Wells Fargo with a $1 billion fine for forcing customers into car insurance and charging mortgage borrowers unfair fees. More

The Justice Department is probing wireless carriers, and that investigation could put the eSIM card rollout on hold. More