Obama Urges Congress To Extend Unemployment Benefits

The president called for extended benefits for more than 1.3 million long-term unemployed Americans after they expired in late December.

Obama Urges Congress To Extend Unemployment Benefits
The White House / Pete Souza

In his first weekly address of 2014, President Obama called on Congress to pass an extension of temporary unemployment benefits that expired in late December.

"We don't abandon our fellow Americans when times get tough. We keep the faith with them until they start that new job. ... And denying families that security is just plain cruel." (Via The White House)

In his address, the president blamed Republicans for letting the benefits expire. He added doing nothing would end up depriving people of spending money and slow down the economy. (Via KTRK)

The Democratic-led Senate is expected to vote on a measure Monday that would extend unemployment benefits to roughly 1.3 million people for three months. (Via WLS-TV)

If the extension passes through the Senate, it will move on to the Republican-controlled House where it's expected to have a tougher time seeking approval. (Via WPTV)

Though a Democratic representative from Kentucky told MSNBC he isn't too worried.

"I think there are probably enough Republicans in places like Pennsylvania and Ohio — places where there are pockets of pretty high unemployment where there's going to be a significant amount of pressure on them to do something."

The president's call to action comes as the national unemployment rate hovers around seven percent— down from 7.3 percent in October. (Via KNXV)

That's the lowest unemployment rate in about five years. The Washington Post reports more than 400,000 people joined the job force in November.

But that news also comes at a time when the participation rate, or the percentage of people actively in the work force, has fallen to 30-year lows.

President Obama says he will sign off on the legislation being considered by the Senate if it's able to pass through the House as well.