The Senate will vote on Tuesday morning as to whether to take up legislation to renew emergency federal unemployment compensation, which expired on Dec. 28 and cut off 1.3 million jobless workers. Democrats and President Obama support this three-month extension; Republicans do not (with a few exceptions, including Senator Dean Heller of Nevada, who is co-sponsoring the bill). Supporters will need 60 votes to break a Republican filibuster, and unless a Dickensian apparition visited a half dozen or so Republican senators last night and induced a change of heart, they’re probably not going to get them.
That’s too bad, because it’s far too soon to cut off benefits for the long-term unemployed. The U.S. labor market hasn’t nearly recovered from the Great Recession. Abandoning these jobless workers isn’t just cruel, it’s bad for the economy. Here’s why Congress should find a way to renew the program: