The need is clear, as we've known every single time this fight has come up; this time around, if extended benefits aren't reauthorized, 1.8 million people could lose their unemployment benefits in January. That would devastate their families and the local businesses at which they spend the small amount of money unemployment insurance provides.
The big question is what horrible policies Republicans think they can extract from Democrats in exchange for this small act of basic fucking decency and economic good sense:
Democrats needed a lot of leverage last time to get deficit-weary Republicans to agree to keeping the extra benefits. The previous reauthorization was attached to an extension of expiring Bush tax cuts. Since the tax cuts were renewed for two years, Democrats will have to find another sweetener this time around. Republicans signaled support for other parts of the president's jobs bill, but those elements are not part of the Democrats' forthcoming benefits bill.
Expect Republicans to once again take America's jobless hostage, demanding concessions far out of proportion to the $49 billion, economically beneficial cost of an unemployment reauthorization. If they fail to extend these benefits, it would make history—"Congress has never cut back on federally-funded unemployment insurance when unemployment was anywhere near this high for this long. The highest unemployment rate when federal benefits were cut by Congress was in 1985, at 7.2 percent."