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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.