|By Sean Lengell; Sean Lengell, Poliical Correspondent|
With more than 1 million of the nation's long-term jobless facing a cutoff of federal unemployment benefits on Saturday, a bipartisan pair of senators have called for an early January vote on a three- month extension of the benefits.
But even if the measure proposed by Sens.
Reed pushed back at
"This is just enough to keep people going -- in some cases, barely enough to keep people going," he said Thursday. "From a human level, cutting, certainly, 1.3 million Americans off this lifeline - - and there will be more in the [coming] months -- doesn't make any sense, and it's not something that we should be doing."
Without legislation, benefits for 1.3 million workers unemployed for longer than 26 weeks will expire Saturday. An additional 1.9 million of the nation's jobless are predicted to experience the same fate in the first half of 2014.
The cost of extending the program is about
Senate Majority Leader
Democratic lawmakers have jumped on Republicans for their reluctance to extend the benefits, with House Minority Leader
It's "an abdication of our obligation to do what we can to support those who worked hard, played by the rules and lost their jobs through no fault of their own," she said.
He added that public pressure on Republicans is critical if an extension of benefits is to pass
"The American people [told Republicans in October] you can't shut down the government because you're unhappy about something," Sanders said. "So when the American people get involved and speak out, we are going to win this fight, and I believe that is what is going to happen."
Republican leaders mostly have been quiet about the debate in recent days. But during the bipartisan budget negotiations this month, Republicans complained that Democrats at the last minute pushed for an extension of the unemployment benefits without offering a way to pay for them.
Such a scenario,
Ryan added that unlike in 2008, when President
Republicans also have balked at extending the benefits on the grounds that the unemployment rate has steadily fallen his year.
"When you allow people to be on unemployment insurance for 99 weeks, you're causing them to become part of this perpetual unemployed group in our -- in our economy," Sen.