[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/POLITICS/02/26/senate.jobless.benefits/story.jim.bunning.gi.jpg caption="Sen. Jim Bunning is being blamed for furloughing thousands of federal employees and threatening state jobs." width=300 height=169]
CNN Financial News Producer
More than 1 million Americans woke up this morning with a new and potentially devastating worry: they’re no longer able to apply for extended unemployment benefits.
Because the Senate failed to push back the Feb. 28 deadline to apply for this safety net last week, those without jobs are no longer able to apply for federal unemployment benefits or the COBRA health insurance subsidy.
Federal benefits kick in after the basic state-funded 26 weeks of unemployment coverage expire. During the recession, Congress approved up to an additional 73 weeks, which it funds.
These federal benefit weeks are divided into tiers, and the jobless must apply each time they move into a new tier.
But because the Senate did not act, the unemployed will now stop getting checks once they run out of their state benefits or current tier of federal benefits.
That could spell disaster for those who are counting on that income. In total, more than 1 million people could stop getting checks next month, with nearly 5 million running out of benefits by June, according to the National Unemployment Law Project.
Lawmakers repeatedly tried to approve a 30-day extension last week, but each time, Sen. Jim Bunning, R-KY., prevented the $10 billion measure from passing, saying it needed to be paid for first.
Filibuster threatens highway jobs
Meanwhile, Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today blamed Sen. Bunning’s filibuster for furloughing thousands of federal employees and threatening state jobs while shutting down highway construction projects nationwide.
"As American families are struggling in tough economic times, I am keenly disappointed that political games are putting a stop to important construction projects around the country," wrote LaHood, in a press release. "This means that construction workers will be sent home from job sites because federal inspectors must be furloughed."
LaHood was referring to Bunning’s filibuster blocking a bill that would, among other things, provide a short-term extension of the Highway Trust Fund, which is a federal fund set up to pay for transportation projects around the country.
As a result, Secretary LaHood says up to 2,000 DOT employees will be sent home without pay.
AIG selling Asia unit for $35B
Troubled insurance giant AIG has reached a definitive agreement to sell its Asian life insurance business to Britain's Prudential PLC in a deal valued at $35.5 billion.
The deal includes $25 billion in cash, which AIG says is the largest cash proceeds it's received from any sale during its current restructuring efforts.
The deal marks yet another step in getting AIG out from under the more than $100 billion it borrowed from the federal government beginning in 2008 to avoid collapse.
AIG’s CEO said in a statement that the deal will allow AIG “to realize value on a faster track to repay U.S. taxpayers” and will give the company “greater flexibility” with its restructuring plans.
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