Jobless Benefit Extension Headed for President's Desk after House OK

January 8, 2003 ( - A bill authorizing additional jobless benefits for 2.5 million Americans was on its way to the White House Wednesday after winning nearly unanimous backing in the US House of Representatives.

The House’s 416-4 vote on the $7.25 billion plan followed by a day unanimous approval in the  Senate , the Associated Press reported. President Bush has until Thursday to sign the measure to avoid logjams in getting benefit checks to jobless workers. The legislation extends the federal program for five months.

The bill will restore federal benefits to more than 750,000 people who were cut off when the program expired December 28 because Congress failed to renew the program before adjourning, the AP said. Another 1.6 million people who exhaust all their state benefits would be eligible for federal aid until June 1.

Democrats in both chambers failed to get coverage for another 1 million workers who already have used up state and federal benefits.

House Republicans, however, were still reluctant, pushing to use tax cuts which they said would create jobs. “When I talk to my constituents who are having trouble finding a job, they are not satisfied drawing on unemployment insurance,” said House Speaker Dennis Hastert, (R-Illinois), according to the AP report. “They want to go to work.”