ABC News’ John R. Parkinson reports:
The House of Representatives voted this afternoon against extending federal unemployment benefits another 90 days, leaving the jobless benefits of about two million Americans in jeopardy as the current relief is set to expire just after Thanksgiving.
The legislation would have cost about $12.5 billion to extend the deadline to file for federal unemployment benefits from Dec. 1 until Feb. 28.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi blamed Republicans in the House for blocking the extension and pledged to continue working towards a short-term extension before the current benefits expire Nov. 30.
“The American people, struggling with high unemployment, continue to look to their leaders for a lifeline until they can get back to work. Today, Democrats voted to extend unemployment insurance to Americans who lost their jobs through no fault of their own; unfortunately, Republicans did not,” Pelosi, D-California, stated. “Our first priority is to create jobs; the American people want to get back to work. Unemployment Insurance is a proven economic booster, returning $2 into the economy for every $1 invested. We will continue to work for an emergency short-term extension to get families through the holidays and to work for longer term solutions as well.”
The bill was brought to the floor under the rules of suspension, requiring a two-thirds majority to pass, but fell 17 votes short with a final tally of 258-154.
Eleven Democrats voted against the measure, while 21 Republicans voted in favor of the extension. Twenty-two members of the House, including 7 Democrats, did not vote at all.
The current benefits are scheduled to expire Nov. 30, so the House will still have two legislative days to try to prevent the benefits from expiring when Congress returns to finish the Lame Duck session after Thanksgiving.
“Republicans’ opposition to this bill was bad for families across their own districts, and worse for our economy as a whole,” Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, stated. "Because Democrats are committed to supporting struggling families and rebuilding our economy, we will keep working to address the extension of unemployment insurance when Congress returns to session on the week of November 29th."
The last extension was passed in July, extending benefits for six months and costing $34 billion. Congress has already extended the deadline four times in the past year.
Even if the House were to pass a bill to extend the jobless benefits, the Senate would also have to take action before Nov. 30 to keep the relief from lapsing. With the Senate currently focusing on a food safety bill and displaying little urgency to pass the benefits, the chances of the unemployed losing their benefits later this month due to Congress’ inaction now appear increasingly likely.