This time, it can happen again, and amid the holiday season. Last week, the "fast-track" for the House version of the emergency benefits failed in the House. Even if it would have passed, it would have faced an uphill battle in the Senate, where the GOP has threatened to block the measure.
Many of the unemployed are hoping that the Democrats and Republicans will be able to cut a deal with each other, trading the unemployment benefits extension for the extension of Bush era Tax Cuts. However, with the GOP's Pledge to America and the Democrats licking their wounds from the aftermath of the 2010 elections, that could be difficult.
In many respects, the economy requires the passage of the unemployment extension for the holiday season. The current proposal would extend benefits until February 28th - at which point it's questionable if any further action would be taken, considering the GOP's majority in both the House and the Senate.