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Roughly 1.2M Apply for Unemployment Benefits as Lawmakers Battle Over Coronavirus Stimulus Packages

Nearly 1.2 million Americans filed for state unemployment benefits last week, amid rancor on Capitol Hill over coronavirus relief packages and the expired $600 unemployment benefit.

It marked the 20th straight week that at least 1 million people have sought jobless aid, The Associated Press reported Thursday. Before the pandemic began, that number had never exceeded 700,000.

The extra $600 in weekly unemployment benefits provided during the coronavirus pandemic expired at 11:59 p.m. Friday.

The amount has been a contentious matter during negotiations for the next federal coronavirus aid package, with some Republican leaders calling for the weekly amount to be cut to as low as $200, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Democrats are steadfast in keeping it at $600.

As of Thursday, the United States has more than 4.8 million reported coronavirus cases, including nearly 159,000 deaths, according to a Johns Hopkins University tracker.

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