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Senate votes to end debate on unemployment insurance extension

The Senate's amendment to restart expired unemployment benefits took another key step forward Wednesday.
By Gabrielle Levy   |   April 2, 2014 at 11:51 AM   |   Comments

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WASHINGTON, April 2 (UPI) -- A measure to renew expired unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless took another key step forward in the Senate Wednesday morning.

Senators voted by the slimmest of margins, 61-38, to limit debate and avoid any threat of filibuster on the deal that would extend payment of benefits to the long-term unemployed for five months, and retroactively pay back those who lost those benefits when they expired in December.

Majority Leader Harry Reid used procedural maneuvers to shake off late attempts at amendments from Republican Senators that would fall under the guise of "job-creating" measures, which included the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline and restrictions on the Obama administration's rule-making abilities.

He also prevented an attempt from Sen. David Vitter, R-La., to include a measure to prevent recipients of the emergency unemployment compensation from also receiving Social Security Disability Insurance payments, calling it "double dipping," and a right-to-work bill from Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, which would prevent employers from requiring employees to pay union fees.

Reid said the amendments were designed in an attempt to kill the compromise.

Under Senate rules, the next votes will automatically take place on Thursday afternoon.

The deal, negotiated by a bipartisan group of 10 senators, is an amendment to another bill that will likely see full passage Thursday after the amendment is approved.

The measure still faces a large hurdle in the House of Representatives, where Speaker John Boehner has indicated he is unlikely to bring forward the amendment.

Follow @gabbilevy and @UPI on Twitter.
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