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The White House is calling on Congress to make its first legislation of the new year the restoration of unemployment insurance for Americans whose benefits have expired.
More than 1 million Americans lost jobless benefits last week. White House economist Gene Sperling says restoring the benefits would not only help those individuals, but also lead to the creation of 200,000 jobs and economic growth.
Under the benefits program, the federal government provided an average monthly stipend of $1,166. However, an extension was dropped from a budget deal struck in December and Republican lawmakers have balked at its $26 billion annual cost.
The White House is backing a bill that would temporarily extend the benefits for three months.