Unemployment Benefits Expire for Thousands

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CNN

Unemployment Benefits Expire for Thousands

by
Brianna Keilar

Extended unemployment benefits will expire for more than 200,000 people on Monday. (Getty images)

Extended unemployment benefits will temporarily expire for thousands
of Americans on Monday because the Senate went on its spring recess
without approving a one-month deadline extension.

The extension,
which had bipartisan support, would have cost about $10 billion, but a
lone Republican, Sen. Tom Coburn, said no until the costs are offset.

The
Oklahoma senator objected to a commonly used unanimous-consent
agreement to pass the bill under emergency conditions, even if it
increases the federal deficit. Coburn wants to eliminate additional
government spending to pay for the bill.

"The legitimate debate
is whether we borrow and steal from our kids or we get out of town and
send the bill to our kids for something that we're going to consume
today," Coburn said on the Senate floor.

It's the second time a Republican has blocked a so-called "emergency extension" of jobless benefits.

Kentucky Sen. Jim Bunning objected to adding to the deficit back in February.

"We can't do everything we'd like to do," Bunning said at the time. "We don't have the money."

Asked whether President Obama
believes that the benefits extension should be paid for, Lawrence
Summers, one of Obama's top economic advisers, said, "He believes that
in an emergency, families who are depending on unemployment insurance
to buy medicine for their kids should not have that unemployment
insurance cut off."

"We believe that we need to approach these
issues in their totality, with a fiscal framework that assures that we
are getting to a much lower budget deficit," Lawrence, the head of the
National Economic Council, said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."

The
unemployment benefits provision was a part of the Continuing Extension
Act of 2010, which affects other programs, too. The Senate's inaction
means lapses in funding for COBRA, Medicare payments to doctors and the
National Flood Insurance Program, among other things.

The Senate
is expected to take up the measure after lawmakers return from recess
the week of April 12. Key Democrats said they hope to pass a
retroactive extension, compensating the unemployed for a gap in
funding. If approved, it would be the seventh time the deadline has
been extended since June 2008.

Which programs did Congress leave unfunded?

For the meantime, Democrats are furious.

Sen. Byron Dorgan represents North Dakota. At 4.1 percent, the state has the lowest unemployment rate in the country.

"There
are a whole lot of people in this country that are unemployed, and if
ever there was a need to extend unemployment insurance, it is now. We
can't do that to the most vulnerable people in this country," he said.

At least 212,000 Americans will be affected Monday.

Alexander
Mitiuriev, an unemployed aerospace engineer, said Coburn's argument
that the nation's children will carry the burden doesn't resonate with
him because his kids are being affected right now.

"This is my
children. For right now, they are affected," he said. "It makes no
sense," he said, adding that his children need the money now.

Clovia Cox, a personal trainer who is out of work, agreed with Mitiuriev, saying that the future is on the line today.

"Having
people give up their future dreams and trying to save money for a
better working car or better career or a better education -- that is
the future. The future starts now. It's desperate now," she said.

About
11.5 million people currently depend on jobless benefits. The average
unemployment period lasts 32.1 weeks. Of those unemployed, a record
44.1 percent of have been jobless for 27 weeks or more.

CNN's Ted Barrett and Kristi Keck and CNNMoney's Jennifer Liberto contributed to this report.

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