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Jobless Benefits Pass Key Senate Hurdle

Budget-battle--35
AP Photo / Evan Vucci

The procedural vote was 61-35, with six Republicans joining all Democrats and independents in backing the bill. They were Sens. Kelly Ayotte (NH), Susan Collins (ME), Dean Heller (NV), Mirk Kirk (IL), Lisa Murkowski (AK) and Rob Portman (OH).

The legislation would revive emergency benefits through the end of May for Americans unemployed for up to 99 weeks. It'll include retroactive compensation for the roughly 2 million who lost their benefits when the program lapsed on Dec. 28. The $10 billion cost of the bill, which is based on a bipartisan deal struck three weeks ago, is funded with modest pension reforms and new user fees.

A final Senate vote on the bill, endorsed by the White House, is expected on Monday.

Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has signaled that the legislation won't go anywhere in the Republican-led House, where conservative lawmakers don't want to bring back the jobless benefits program.