ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley has written a letter signed by 13 other Democratic governors urging Congress to extend unemployment insurance benefits.

O’Malley, a Democrat, told reporters Wednesday in Annapolis that the nation’s economy will be hurt if unemployment benefits are not extended.

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The legislation would restore benefits averaging $256 weekly to the estimated 1.3 million long-term jobless Americans who were cut off on Dec. 28. The three-month cost to the Treasury is estimated at $6.4 billion.

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If Congress doesn’t act, hundreds of thousands more will feel the impact in the months ahead as their state-funded benefits expire, generally after 26 weeks.

Legislation to renew the benefits headed toward gridlock Wednesday as Democrats objected to Republican demands to offset the cost so deficits don’t rise.

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