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FYI: Congress will have its last opportunity to extend the feds’ emergency unemployment benefits program when it comes briefly back into session next week. The program, which grants an additional 13 weeks of coverage to workers who have exhausted state benefits, will expire on December 21. After that date, no new people can enroll, though those already getting benefits will keep receiving support until their 13 weeks run out. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says that by the end of January half a million out of work people will also be out of unemployment insurance. Advocates and Democratic supporters have managed to keep alive the theoretically temporary program, which began in the spring of 2002, as the economy has continued to drag. Last December, Congress faced a similar situation as this year, and adjourned for the holidays without re-upping the program; legislators returned in early January to restart it however. [12/4/03]

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