Unemployment benefits expire across U.S.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – At midnight Tuesday federal emergency unemployment benefits ended for an estimated two million Americans. A bill was introduced Monday to extend the program for one year but Senator Jack Reed says it's unlikely to be passed in time to avert an interruption in benefits.

In Rhode Island, 17,000 will see their unemployment benefits reduced from 99 weeks to 46 weeks after congress failed to pass an unemployment insurance extension bill. Laura Hart, a spokeswoman for the State Department of Labor and Training says the impact won't be felt immediately.

"Your benefits aren't going to just stop and you are left high and dry," hart says. "You can continue on your federal benefits for a while if you're on them and then most likely you'll transfer to state extended benefits which is 20 more weeks of benefits.?"

Senator Jack Reed says he'll seek a retroactivity clause in the unemployment extension bill that was introduced Monday night but not yet acted on by Congress. With the arms reduction treaty, tax cuts and other issues on the Lame Duck session, he is pessimistic about quick action.

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