Obama to press for extending aid to the jobless

McClatchy Washington BureauJanuary 7, 2014 

President Barack Obama will make his first official 2014 appearance today as he launches an effort to press Republicans into extending aid to the longtime jobless.

Obama will host an event in the East Room at the White House where the administration says he'll "talk about the toll that allowing these benefits to expire has had on 1.3 million Americans." He'll also warn "of the negative consequences for the broader economy if Congress fails to act quickly on this urgent priority," the White House said.

He'll be joined by what the White House said is Americans whose unemployment insurance has expired, as well as others who've been helped by the aid in the past, and people wo support an extension of the insurance.

Obama's remarks are scheduled for 11:40 a.m. -- just after a sharply divided Senate takes up the measure.

Republicans appear to be nearly unanimous in opposing the measure to provide three months of emergency benefits because its $6.5 billion price tag would not be offset by other cuts.

But the White House says failing to extend the benefits would be "unprecedented with long-term unemployment as high as it is today."

The White House says independent economists estimate that failing to extend the aid could cost as many as 240,000 jobs this year.

Volunteers with Obama's political arm, Organizing for Action, plan a series of "rapid response events" around the country, calling on Congress to restore the unemployment insurance.

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