130,000 Ohioans on track to lose unemployment benefits - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

130,000 Ohioans on track to lose unemployment benefits

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (12/10/2013) - The federal government closed Tuesday due to severe snow and ice, but lawmakers are continuing to work on a budget deal ahead of another tight January deadline.

However, this deadline could be marred by more political infighting over federal unemployment benefits, which are set to expire December 28th.

Nearly 130,000 people in Ohio are set to lose their unemployment benefits if Congress does not pass an extension to the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program.

"It just makes me sick, especially at this season when we're going to say to a bunch of people ‘Sorry, you're not getting your unemployment now – Merry Christmas,'" said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH).

Ohio unemployment benefits last 26 weeks before federal emergency benefits kick in for another 37 weeks, for a total of 63 weeks of benefits.

Since 2008, about 800,000 people in Ohio have received the emergency unemployment benefits, receiving an average of $318 per week.

Republican Sen. Rob Portman (OH) was unable to be interviewed, but he appeared on ABC's "This Week" Sunday, where he said the federal unemployment benefits would add about $25 billion dollars to the budget, an additional cost he said he was willing to address outside of budget talks.

The White House released their own report last week, urging members of Congress to extend the program, citing the positive impact it would have on the country's economy.

"You don't short-term go after these cuts when it hurts the growth of the economy," Brown said. "The most important thing is to grow the economy, period. Then you begin to grow out of these budget problems."

Brown said he is willing to stay in Washington until Christmas day to continue working on extending federal unemployment benefits, a cause that will likely add more political turmoil to an already embittered Congress.

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