WASHINGTON (CNN) – For more than three weeks, 1.3 million Americans have been without long-term unemployment benefits.
Congress is at a standstill with no deal in sight.
On Tuesday, the bipartisan group of negotiators couldn’t reach an agreement.
The battle focuses on how long to renew the benefits and how to pay for them.
The bill could cost between $6 billion for a three-month extension to $25 billion for a longer one.
Republicans insist any extension needs to be paid for with cuts in the budget.
Rep. Darrell Issa, (R) California, said, “The Senate should actually be paying for whatever it passes.”
Democrats say Congress has an obligation to help those who are unemployed.
Sen. Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader, said, “This small stipend averaging $300 a week has helped them keep food on the tables and literally a roof over their heads.”
Sen. Dick Durbin, (D) Illinois, said, “Losing a job is bad enough. Making it worse by cutting off unemployment checks is unacceptable.”
At a cabinet meeting, the president turned up the heat on Congress.
President Obama said, “Unemployment insurance is not only good for them and necessary for them but it’s also good for our economy as a whole.”