With only a handful of senators present, Reid filed for cloture, meaning the Senate will wait 30 hours before it can vote on final passage of the measure, which will require 60 votes. Reid said the vote will likely come Wednesday.
The move follows a procedural test vote, which passed last week with 10 Republicans joining all 55 members of the Democratic caucus.
The deal, hashed out by a bipartisan group of 10 senators led by Jack Reed, D-R.I., and Dean Heller, R-Nev., would extend unemployment insurance for more than 2 million Americans for another five months, and retroactively pay out benefits to those who lost their benefits when they expired in December.
Even if the bill passes the Senate this week, it still faces significant opposition in the House, where Speaker John Boehner has indicated he may not bring the measure up at all. Boehner, citing concerns from state workforce agencies, says paying retroactive benefits would place too heavy a burden on the agencies tasked with dispersing the payments in each state.
Supporters of renewing unemployment insurance charged Boehner with grasping at a convenient excuse to avoid restarting unemployment benefits in favor of job-creating measures.