Opportunity to renew expended federal unemployment benefits fading

March 12, 2014 at 12:43 PM
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WASHINGTON, March 12 (UPI) -- The last opportunity to renew federal benefits for the long-term unemployed comes at the end of March, advocates for an extension say.

Democrats in Congress have attempted to extend benefits for the jobless and have been blocked by Republicans, but the last politically feasible opportunity for Congress to act on fiscal matters will be a decision on the "doc fix," an improvement to a flawed payment formulator for Medicare providers, NBC News said Tuesday.

It is the last financial decision Congress is likely to make for months, and Democrats intend to work unemployment benefits into the discussion over the Medicare payments, which expire Mar. 31.

"We understand that there are very serious negotiations in the Senate involving the usual suspects. We're hopeful there will be a breakthrough," said Judy Conti of the National Employment Law Project.

It has been over two months since the Dec. 31 expiration of federal benefits to the unemployed, which begin after state aid, typically 26 weeks of benefits, expires, NBC News said.

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