JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Concern about the national debt has led the Missouri Senate to put off discussion on a bill that would continue the state’s extended unemployment benefits.

People receive extended benefits if they have been unemployed for more than 79 weeks. The state will continue sending checks to people in the program until April 2. But the state Department of Labor says 13,000 Missourians might lose their extended benefits if the bill is not passed by that date.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Dempsey said Thursday that the Senate might consider the bill again before the April 2 deadline.

Sen. Jim Lembke, a St. Louis County Republican, has lead opposition to the measure. He says lawmakers should turn down the funds to send a message that the federal government should spend less money.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.