House Passes Unemployment Benefits Extension
Responding to criticism that its failure to extend a program for unemployed workers before adjourning for the year left financially strapped families in the lurch over the holidays, Congress on Wednesday passed a bill to extend federal unemployment benefits.
On Wednesday the House overwhelming passed, by a vote of 416-4, a bill the Senate passed by voice vote on Tuesday that would grant unemployed workers an additional 13 weeks of federal benefits. Displaced workers would be able to apply for the extra money through May.
Once President Bush signs the bill, as he is expected to do, those workers whose benefits were interrupted Dec. 28, 2002, can expect a check as the bill will apply retroactively to Dec. 29. However, unemployed workers who already exhausted their 13 weeks of federal benefits cannot apply for the extension.
House Democrats tried in vain to offer an alternative, charging that as many as 1 million workers who have already exhausted their state and federal benefits would get no relief under the GOP bill.