Unemployment Benefits Extension Wins Key Senate Vote

Source: Susan Davis / USA Today

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate agreed Tuesday to move forward with a three-month extension of expired jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed, which affects an estimated 1.3 million Americans.

Six Republicans voted with 54 members of the Senate Democratic Caucus, which includes two independents, to overcome a 60-vote threshold to begin consideration of bipartisan legislation sponsored by Sens. Jack Reed, D-R.I., and Dean Heller, R-Nev.

The bill would reinstate unemployment benefits that expired Dec. 28 because Congress failed to act before the holiday break.

Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, was not present for the vote. Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., surprised Democrats by providing the key vote to advance the bill.

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