The U.S. Congress begins what promises to be another highly combative year on Monday with a showdown over a White House-backed bid to renew unemployment benefits for 1.3 million Americans.
Jobless benefits battle
The battle will kick off a 2014 drive by President Barack Obama and fellow Democrats to stem a growing gap between rich and poor.
The Democrat-led Senate plans to escalate the fight in coming weeks by bringing up for a vote a bill to increase the federal minimum wage, which has stood at $7.25 an hour since July 2009. Democrats want the minimum wage to rise over three years to $10.10 and then be indexed to inflation in the future.
"We are trying to catch up with what the American people have known for years - that they are working more for less," Democratic Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island said in an interview.
[Read Full article: Congress to begin 2014 with jobless benefits battle]