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Jobless-Benefits Measure Advances in Senate, Making Way for NFIP Vote

Posted on 13 Apr 2010

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In a 60-34 vote, Democratic senators on Monday overcame Republican opposition to an extension of unemployment benefits and health-insurance subsidies for jobless people.

Four Republican lawmakers sided with Democrats to reach the necessary 60-senator threshold in the procedural vote. The Republicans were Sens. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, and George Voinovich of Ohio.

Led by Sen. Tom Coburn (R., Okla.), most Republicans have pressed the majority Democrats to find money from elsewhere in the federal budget to pay for the measures, citing the size of the federal government's budget deficit.

The benefits and subsidies would be extended retroactively to last week, when they were allowed to expire.

On a conference call earlier Monday, Sen. Richard Durbin (D., Ill.) said that about 212,000 long-term unemployed people had exhausted their benefits in the past week, and that by the end of the month nearly a million Americans would have done so.

The bill includes a continuation of a federal flood-insurance program and funds to offset a 21% reduction in payments to doctors who treat Medicare patients. The legislation's cost stands at $9.2 billion.

The bill extends the federal jobless benefits until May 5, by which time Democrats hope to have a longer-term solution in place. Other measures in the bill are extended through April.

Democratic aides said that they expected complete consideration of the legislation to occupy the Senate for the rest of the week.