Unemployment benefits extension clears hurdle

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Carte Goodwin (AP file)

Carte Goodwin (AP file)

A bill to restore unemployment benefits to millions who have been out of work for more than six months has cleared a Senate hurdle.

The 60-40 vote came moments after Carte Goodwin, a successor to West Virginia Democrat Robert Byrd, was sworn in. Goodwin was the crucial 60th senator to defeat a Republican filibuster that has led to a lapse in benefits for 2.5 million people.

A battle has raged for months over whether jobless benefits should be financed with additional federal debt as Democrats want or through cuts to other government programs as most Republicans insist.

After a final Senate vote, the House will take up the bill Wednesday. President Barack Obama is likely to sign it into law by week’s end.

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