If Republicans and Democrats in Congress don't come to an agreement in the next 10 days, about 1.1 million out-of-work Californians won't get their unemployment check in the mail come Jan. 7.
The state Employment Development Department reported Wednesday that, given the continuing political gridlock in Washington, it is getting ready to send out warning letters to the thousands of unemployed Californians who could be cut off from jobless claims.
The immediate cuts would apply to those receiving Fed-Ed (federally-funded) benefits. As ABC explains, "Normally, an eligible person could get up to 26 weeks of benefits, but in this recession, as many as four extensions are available. For the long-term unemployed, a special extension called Fed-Ed makes up to 99 weeks of benefits available."
The 100,000 Californians on Fed-Ed would be completely cut off of aid in January without an extension from Congress. The Californians who more recently started receiving jobless benefits could also be cut off, although more gradually, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Both Republicans and Democrats agree that the payroll tax cut and long-term unemployment benefits should be extended. What they don't agree on is for how long they should be extended and how they should be funded.
Senate Republicans and Democrats agreed over a week ago on a temporary two-month extension of a payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits. But House Republicans, Tuesday, rejected the agreement, saying they wanted a one-year extension agreement.
EDD Director Pam Harris said Wednesday, "We know unemployment is a stressful experience at any time, and we understand that the uncertainty surrounding the benefit extensions adds to that stress, especially during the holiday season."
Harris reassured that her agency is doing all it can to prepare California, where unemployment at 11.3 percent is second highest in the nation, for what may be coming.
House Republican leaders have agreed to a two-month extension of a payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits, although they have yet to officially vote on the measure. A conference call on the hand-shake agreement is expected within the hour. Stay tuned for updates on this developing story.