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Former Marine Among Those Set To Lose Long-Term Unemployment Benefits In Budget Deal

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Matt-Rivers-web-headshot Matt Rivers
Matt Rivers joined CBS 3 and The CW Philly’s Eyewitness News team ...
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By Matt Rivers

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A bipartisan deal out of Congress sets up the framework to fund the government for the next two years.

The deal, if passed, addresses everything from spending cuts to revenue increases, but not long-term unemployment benefits which are set to expire December 28th.

Malik Culbreth served as a Marine for four years.  He was an artillery mechanic, rose to the rank of lance corporal, and served in Afghanistan.

He was honorably discharged in January, and has been unemployed since.

He’s looking for work, though, applying for one job after another.

“If I could get a job that could keep me afloat, you best believe I would keep it,” said Culbreth.  “Nobody actually wants to be in this situation.”

That situation being the long-term unemployment benefits he receives.

He gets about $1,500 dollars a month on a government-issued debit card, equal to about $18,000 per year.

It means a lot.

“Rent, bills, day to day living, travel costs, food, everything,” said Culbreth.

And even then, it’s barely enough.

Culbreth is hardly alone in his struggles.  In Pennsylvania, nearly 500,000 people remain out of work, and out of those, the Philadelphia Unemployment Project said 87,000 are on long-term unemployment benefits.

But those payouts could stop by December 28th if Congress doesn’t act.

Several Republicans have said these benefits have been in place long enough, and that promotes unemployment.

Proponents say that’s not true, and argue curbing the program could hurt the broader economy.

“People don’t have money, they don’t buy anything.  It’s going to a very ‘unpurchasing’ Christmas for thousands of families in this state,” said John Dodds, the Director of the Philadelphia Unemployment Project.

For his part, Malik Culbreth said the only jobs he’s seen are at or near minimum wage, positions for which he feels overqualified.

So in the meantime, he waits for Congress to make a call.

“My big thing is I’m hoping, praying that it does go through to keep myself afloat.”

A former Marine fighting for a career.

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