Mary Helen Gillespie of Londonderry, N.H., is about to lose her last government lifeline. Since being laid off from a large banking firm in April, Ms. Gillespie, 57, has been living on little more than her unemployment insurance payments of $384 a week. She has burned through her savings and moved back in with her parents.
“There are times where I’ll go two, three, four days where I only have five dollars in my wallet and no money in my checking account,” said Ms. Gillespie, who worked as a corporate compliance officer at her previous employer,choking up as she described the difficulty of finding a job, any job, after her second extended period of joblessness since 2007. “I’ve been making decisions such as: Do I buy groceries or do I buy prescriptions?”
Ms. Gillespie’s 26 weeks of state benefits ran out this month, but she remained eligible for the emergency federal unemployment-insurance program, which has provided as many as 73 additional weeks of checks in states with high jobless rates.
Until now. Unless Congress acts — suddenly and unexpectedly — that recession-era initiative will expire at the end of the month. About 1.3 million current beneficiaries will lose aid. Also affected are an estimated 1.9 million more who would have been eligible for the program in the first half of 2014 after their state benefits ran out.
Democrats in Congress are pushing for an extension, which would cost the...