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Politics & Government

Washington's debate over extending federal jobless benefits heads home

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Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio
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Congressman Dan Kildee (D-Flint) talks with several people who are among Michigan's long-term unemployed. State Senator Jim Ananich (D-Flint) (center) listens.

Congress is on recess.

So the debate over extending federal emergency unemployment benefits has moved from Washington to local congressional districts. 

The benefits were created during the recession to help the long-term unemployed.   But the emergency benefits expired at the end of December. 

On Friday, Michigan Congressman Dan Kildee sat down with several people who are among the state’s long-term unemployed.

Melinda Moore of Saginaw told Kildee that she has tried for months and just cannot find a job.

“I’m at the point where I have nowhere left to apply to,” Moore told Kildee, “And we need help here.”

Democrat Kildee says he’s frustrated by Congress’ refusal to pass an extension of federal unemployment benefits.

“We can’t sacrifice the people who are unemployed right now for political purposes,” says Kildee.

House Republican leaders say they would approve the extension as long as there are budget cuts to pay for it.

Nearly 44 thousand Michiganders lost their federal unemployment checks when the benefits expired last month.