Unemployment Benefits For 1.3 Million Americans Run Out Saturday

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A view of the U.S. Capitol building on Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013 in Washington. (AP/ Evan Vucci)
(AP/ Evan Vucci)

On Saturday, unemployment benefits for 1.3 million Americans will expire.

Congress has refused to approve an extension of the benefits for the long-term unemployed.

Democrats have said they'll try to get an extension passed once Congress returns, but Republicans want something in exchange.

House Speaker John Boehner has insisted that any extension would require cuts elsewhere.

Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson speaks with NPR's Tamara Keith about whether Republicans and Democrats will reach an compromise.

Jeremy Hobson also speaks with Tammie Heazlit, who is one of the 1.3 million Americans who'll lose her unemployment benefits.

Heazlit works two part time jobs — one at a chiropractor's office, and another at an outdoor store. She counted on the unemployment benefit to fill out the rest of her cost of living. Once the benefit ends, Heazlit isn't sure what she'll do.

"I actually have a degree in hydro-geology and environmental science, environmental planning — storm water is my specialty, so it would be nice if I could use my other degree," she said. "I'll either hopefully get another part-time job, or I don't know, sell plasma."

Some critics of unemployment benefits argue that the program discourages the unemployed to get a job. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is one of those critics.

"I would like to invite Sen. Rand Paul to live off of $320 a week, and work either not at all, or a couple part time jobs, which is what the majority of people have and see what it's like," Heazlit said. "When I sit in the unemployment office — and I was number 366 in line when I was there at 7 o'clock in the morning — every single person that is in that office has a legitimate story. There's nobody who is sitting there that is slacking, and I'm sure there are slackers...but it is by far not the majority. These people are looking for jobs, these people are applying for jobs left and right."


  • Tamara Keith, NPR Congressional correspondent. She tweets @tamarakeithNPR.
  • Tammie Heazlit, one of 1.3 million whose unemployment benefits expire on Dec. 28.

This segment aired on December 27, 2013.


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