A bill to extend jobless benefits for three months was defeated in the U.S. House, threatening to cut off aid to thousands of the nation’s long-term unemployed.
Republicans, in a replay of a dispute earlier this year, blocked the legislation because its $12 billion cost would be added to the government’s deficit. They demanded offsetting savings elsewhere in the budget.
The 258-154 vote fell short of the two-thirds needed under an expedited approval process. Voting against the bill were 11 Democrats and 143 Republicans.
Aid is set to expire Nov. 30 for some unemployed, and with Congress out of session next week for the Thanksgiving holiday, lawmakers will have little time to find agreement before then.
“This bill is like déjà vu all over again, and not in a good way,” said Representative Charles Boustany, a Louisiana Republican. “We all want to help those in need but the American people also know someone has to pay when government spends money, and it shouldn’t be our children and grandchildren.”
Representative Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat, said “ending unemployment assistance will not only be devastating for these individuals and their families but it will also hurt the economy as a whole by undermining consumer confidence and demand.”
About 8,400 Americans will see their unemployment checks cut off by the end of the first week of December, according to Labor Department estimates. By the end of the third week of December, 1.36 million Americans will be affected if Congress doesn’t act, the agency said.
The unemployment rate last month was 9.6 percent. Jobless benefits were cut off earlier this year for some unemployed people after a similar dispute in the Senate led by Kentucky Republican Jim Bunning.
The bill is H.R. 6419.