As Congress debates, jobless lose benefits

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WASHINGTON — Nearly 3,000 Massachusetts residents have exhausted unemployment benefits since the end of the year, and hundreds more are losing them each week, as efforts to restore the federal extensions remain stalled in Congress.

Lawmakers will try again to revive the program, which expired Dec. 28, after their return to Washington this week. Despite clearing a key procedural hurdle in the Democrat-controlled Senate earlier this month, legislation to reauthorize the federal emergency benefits has bogged down over how to pay for the costs, estimated at several billion dollars.

Proposals to extend the program first for 11 months, then three months each failed in the Senate earlier this month. And such proposals will likely face an even tougher time in the Republican-controlled House.

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