updated 7/1/2010 10:15:38 AM ET 2010-07-01T14:15:38

More than 1.3 million laid-off workers won't get their unemployment benefits reinstated before Congress goes on a weeklong vacation for Independence Day.

An additional 200,000 people who have been without a job for at least six months stand to lose their benefits each week, unless Congress acts.

For the third time in as many weeks, Republicans in the Senate successfully filibustered a bill Wednesday night that would have continued unemployment checks to people who have been laid off for long stretches. The House is slated to vote on a similar measure Thursday, though the Senate's action renders the vote a futile gesture as Congress prepares to depart Washington for its holiday recess.

A little more than 1.3 million people have already lost benefits since the last extension ran out at the end of May.

"It is beyond disappointing that Republicans continue to stand almost lockstep against assistance for out-of-work Americans," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

The measure, however, stands a better chance of passing after a replacement is seated for Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., who died Monday. The measure fell two votes short of the 60 needed to advance Wednesday night, but only because Reid, a supporter of the bill, voted "nay" to take a procedural step that would allow for a revote.

"We will vote on this measure again once there is a replacement named for the late Sen. Byrd," Reid said.

Byrd's successor will be named by West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin, a Democrat.

Unable to deliver more stimulus spending for President Barack Obama, Democrats in Congress had hoped to at least restore the jobless benefits. Obama has urged lawmakers to spend about $50 billion to help states pay for Medicaid programs and to avoid teacher layoffs, but Democrats in Congress have been unable to come up with the votes.

Many Democrats see state aid and unemployment benefits as insurance against the economy sliding back into recession. However, many Republicans and some Democrats worry about adding to the growing national debt.

Republicans offered to support the unemployment bill if it was paid for with unspent money from last year's massive economic recovery package. Democrats rejected the offer, saying the money was needed for jobs programs.

"The only reason the unemployment extension hasn't passed is because Democrats simply refuse to pass a bill that doesn't add to the debt," said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

Republicans, who have argued that the economic recovery package was a failure, say it included plenty of lawmakers' pet projects that could be cut to cover the $33.9 billion needed to pay for extended unemployment benefits.

Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, said, "My concern is that the Democrats are more interested in having this issue to demagogue for political gamesmanship than they are in simply passing the benefits extension."

The unemployment bill would have provided up to a total of 99 weekly unemployment checks averaging $335 to people whose 26 weeks of state-paid benefits have run out. The benefits would be available through the end of November, at a cost of $33.9 billion. The money would be borrowed, adding to the budget deficit.

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Video: Obama at pains to explain stimulus success

  1. Transcript of: Obama at pains to explain stimulus success

    BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: The economic disaster in the gulf is only adding to the tough times all across this country. President Obama was on the road today talking about how he helped pull the country back from the brink of the financial crisis even as anxiety is building now from Main Street to Wall Street , as they say, about whether the economy is really recovering or about to start another leg down. Our White House correspondent Savannah Guthrie at the White House tonight with more on this. Savannah , good evening.

    SAVANNAH GUTHRIE reporting: Good evening, Brian . And this a White House anxious to show it's focused on the economy and just plain anxious with this recovery from recession looking very slow and fragile.

    Unidentified Woman: Hi!

    President BARACK OBAMA: How are you?

    Woman: Great. How are you?

    GUTHRIE: The president in Racine , Wisconsin , today did his part to help the local economy , sampling the city's signature pastries.

    Pres. OBAMA: You guys need one of those.

    Unidentified Man: You do.

    GUTHRIE: Then, before a mostly friendly town hall audience, warned real economic recovery will take time.

    Pres. OBAMA: From the day we walked into the White House , we knew that the crisis we faced was so severe that it was going to take months and maybe even years to fully heal.

    GUTHRIE: The White House is bracing for another disappointing jobs report Friday, expected to show a significant drop in government census hiring and only weak job growth in the private sector. Retail sales, which had been showing signs of life, are falling again. And consumer confidence dropped dramatically this month. Compounding the problem, state and local governments are having to make painful budget cuts, 46 of 50 states facing budget shortfalls. And the life support from federal stimulus dollars runs out at the end of the year. Some economists fear a double-dip recession.

    Mr. MARK ZANDI (Moody's The economy probably will make it through without double dipping, but the odds will be uncomfortably high.

    GUTHRIE: But with a ballooning deficit, Congress is not in the mood to come to the rescue. Lawmakers rejected plans to extend unemployment benefits because it added to the deficit, the same reason the president's request for $50 billion in more stimulus spending for states at the moment is going nowhere. In Wisconsin today, the president found himself having to explain that the first $787 billion stimulus plan did actually work, while acknowledging many Americans haven't felt it.

    Pres. OBAMA: So if I had been just thinking politics, I would have sent you one big check with my picture on it and said, `Here's you tax cut.'

    GUTHRIE: Well, tonight Democrats in Congress are trying to cobble together the votes needed to get that unemployment extension through. That vote could come as early as tomorrow, Brian .

    WILLIAMS: Savannah Guthrie at the White House for us tonight. Savannah ,


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