More than 3 million people stand to lose unemployment benefits in early 2012 unless Republicans and Democrats can reach an agreement on how to extend the aid and how to offset the cost. Republicans want to impose stricter regulations on who can receive aid, including sharply reducing the maximum duration of benefits. Democrats maintain these changes don’t make sense at a time when 45 percent of unemployed have been out of work for six months or more. Major provisions of the federal unemployment insurance program begin expiring in the first week of January, and people would begin to feel the effects over the next several months. By the end of march, 3.6 million will be affected.