John McCain is one of dozens of Republicans joining Democrats' calls to extend unemployment payments.
The Arizona senator says more of the benefits are one way to prop up the sagging economy and has also indicated that he could be open to a new economic stimulus package.
On CNBC, the presumed GOP nominee said he's behind the extension because Americans are "hurting badly."
The White House is against the idea, saying such emergency steps have historically been taken only when the unemployment rate jumps considerably higher than its current 5.5 percent.
Dozens of House Republicans are likely to abandon the president in the vote later this week to award 13 additional weeks of unemployment compensation to people who've used up their benefits.
One Republican congressman says it's a "no brainer." A half-percentage point jump last week in the unemployment rate is helping make the idea more popular among GOP lawmakers.