Veterans retirement benefits an issue in jobless bill

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WASHINGTON – Republicans and Democrats are both pledging to renew efforts at resurrecting jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed, even though immediate compromise prospects are dim one day after the Senate deadlocked on the issue.

Several officials in both parties said Wednesday a key sticking point centres on a Republican demand to include a provision that would repeal changes in benefits for military retirees that cleared Congress late last year.

Other obstacles include differences over the duration of any renewal of jobless benefits and steps to offset the cost so deficits don’t rise.

The issue revolves around aid for laid-off workers who have exhausted state benefits, which generally last 26 weeks. Under an expired program, federal aid was available for up to another 47 weeks, depending on the level of statewide unemployment.

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