Jobless benefits bill clears first Senate hurdle

In this Feb. 27, 2014, file photo, Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., center, confers with Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., right, with Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., at far left, as members of the Senate Banking Committee gather for an appearance by Janet Yellen on Capitol Hill in Washington. One partisan election-year battle that senators seem likely to resolve when they return from recess later this month is the fight over renewing expired benefits for the long-term unemployed. Reed, a leading bargainer, said the March 13 agreement would help families and "provide a little certainty to families, business and the markets that Congress is capable of coming together to do the right thing."  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
In this Feb. 27, 2014, file photo, Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., center, confers with Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., right, with Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., at far left, as members of the Senate Banking Committee gather for an appearance by Janet Yellen on Capitol Hill in Washington. One partisan election-year battle that senators seem likely to resolve when they return from recess later this month is the fight over renewing expired benefits for the long-term unemployed. Reed, a leading bargainer, said the March 13 agreement would help families and "provide a little certainty to families, business and the markets that Congress is capable of coming together to do the right thing." (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Long-delayed legislation to restore benefits for the long-term unemployed has cleared an initial Senate hurdle.

The 65-34 Thursday vote came as the White House issued a statement of support. The measure would restore benefits for five months, back to when they expired Dec. 28.

The program generally helps workers who have been off the job longer than 26 weeks.

Senate Democrats have been trying to renew the program for months. They were forced by Republicans to accept changes before the bill had the 60 votes needed to overcome procedural hurdles. Among them was a demand to offset the cost of nearly $10 billion and avoid raising the deficit.

Senate approval of the measure is possible next week, but the bill faces a chilly reception in the Republican-controlled House.

 

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