WASHINGTONWASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday defended himself against critics who say expanded unemployment benefits offered in the COVID-19 relief bill passed in March are keeping Americans from taking new jobs.

Biden said the administration will remind U.S. states this week that any unemployed American offered a comparable job must take it or risk losing unemployment benefits. He is also directing the U.S. Labor Department to work with states to reinstate requirements that those receiving unemployment benefits must demonstrate they are actively looking for work.

"If you're receiving unemployment benefits and you're offered a suitable job, you can't refuse that job and just keep getting unemployment benefits," Biden said.

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Republican lawmakers blamed a bad jobs report last week on the Democratic president's decision to offer expanded unemployment benefits through August. Some Republican governors have scrapped the added benefits, directing the additional dollars elsewhere.

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the U.S. economy as he faces reporters in the East Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 10, 2021.
Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

(Reporting By Nandita Bose and Jarrett RenshawEditing by Chizu Nomiyama and Howard Goller)