(NBC News) With President Obama back from vacation in Hawaii, the focus in Washington today turns to unemployment - and the millions of Americans losing benefits.
Senate Democrats and the Obama Administration are pushing to get those checks rolling again, but opponents say we shouldn't borrow money from China to pay for it.
1.3 million Americans lost unemployment benefits on New Year 's Day.
The Obama Administration claims that'll eventually affect 14 million Americans - those who lose check this year and those who they support. "Denying families that security is just plain cruel," said President Barack Obama.
"This is difference between hardship and catastrophe," said Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez.
But restoring those benefits will cost 6.3 billion dollars. "I am opposed to having it without paying for it," said Senator Rand Paul, (R) Kentucky.
"I'm not saying it has to be offset dollar for dollar, but there has to be some compromise coming from the Democrats," said Rep. Peter King, (R) New York.
The Senate is expected to vote as early as today on a three-month extension. They need a few Republicans to support it. "It would seem to me that 5 Republicans in the Senate should agree with Republicans around the country," said Majority Leader Senator Harry Reid, (D-NV).
The administration argues it's politics. "All five times that President Bush extended unemployment benefits, there were no pay-fors," said Director of the National Economic Council, Gene Sperling.
If Congress passes this extension, President Obama has said he'll sign it.
Even if he does, it's temporary, which means Congress would have to deal with this again in the spring.
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