More than a million Americans will lose their unemployment benefits after an emergency federal programme expired on Saturday.
Lawmakers failed to agree on an extension of the scheme before the US Congress began its winter recess.
Former President George W Bush introduced the assistance plan in 2008 at the start of the recession.
The BBC reports that under the programme, jobless people received an average monthly stipend of $1166 for up to 73 weeks.
The White House says the benefits have kept millions of families out of poverty, but many Republicans argue that the scheme's annual $25 billion price tag is too expensive.
The stalemate comes two months after a budget fight in the US Congress led to the partial shutdown of the government.
President Barack Obama has vowed to push for the renewal of the expired programme when Congress reconvenes in early January.