Congress blocked the reinstatement of benefits for nearly 2 million out-of-work Americans on Thursday when an effort to maintain a federal program to help unemployed workers failed by one vote in the Senate.
Payments were halted for 1.7m existing recipients in the New Year. Each week, there are over 60,000 more people who otherwise would have been eligible for the benefit, but now can not recieve it.
Thursday’s vote was a final attempt to fund a temporary three-month extension and retroactive payments by introducing technical tweaks to the budget, but it failed to clear a key procedural hurdle in the US Senate.
The so-called cloture motion on a funding amendment proposed by Rhode Island Democrat Jack Reed was supported by 59 of the 60 senators needed to end a filibuster and move to a simple majority vote. (Senate majority leader Harry Reid supported the measure, but changed his vote to “nay” in a tactical move that preserves his right to reintroduce legislation at a later stage.)