With the jobless rate hovering just over 7 percent, congressional Republicans said Tuesday that they are ready to let emergency unemployment benefits lapse on Dec. 31, immediately cutting off checks to more than a million recipients.

“I don’t see much appetite from our side for an extension of benefits. I just don’t,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), a close ally of House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and a member of the budget conference committee tasked with cutting a year-end deal on spending

The conference panel, headed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-Wash.), was closing in on a deal to avoid another government shutdown in January and ease the sharp spending cuts known as the sequester, according to senior aides in both parties.