Fri Feb 7, 2014 1:19AM GMT
The US Senate has failed to extend long-term unemployment benefits for 1.7 million Americans for three months.
On Thursday, Republicans for the second time in less than a month blocked a bill to restore benefits.
Fifty-nine senators, including four Republicans, voted to advance the legislation, falling one vote short of the 60 needed to break a Republican filibuster effort.
“We’re one Republican vote away from restoring unemployment benefits for 1.7 million Americans,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said. “We’ve given them everything they wanted. Paid for.”
The measure called for a three-month renewal of an expired program that provided up to 47 weeks of federal benefits when state-paid aid runs out, generally after 26 weeks.
The cost was estimated at slightly more than $6 billion over a decade.
US President Barack Obama has repeatedly pressed Congress to extend the program.
“We cannot allow one vote to stand in the way of supporting these Americans as they struggle to find work,” a White House statement said on Thursday.
“Both sides of the aisle have worked together to prevent this kind of hardship in the past, and neglecting to do so now is unacceptable — especially given the high long-term unemployment rate.”