WASHINGTON, Dec. 16 (UPI) -- The U.S. House of Representatives voted narrowly Thursday to approve a $174 billion measure intended to promote employment and help jobless workers.
The vote was 217-212, with no Republicans supporting the measure and 38 Democrats joining the GOP in voting against it, The Hill reported. The vote followed a loud debate during which Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and other Democratic Party leaders pleaded with their colleagues to vote for the measure despite concern about deficit spending, The Hill said.
Earlier Wednesday, the House voted to raise the debt limit by $300 billion.
Democrats from conservative districts have expressed reluctance to support spending measures, arguing in favor of deficit reduction instead.
Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., who voted against the jobs bill, said Congress has to indicate it is "serious about the deficit."
"We didn't cause the deficit, but we have to address it," he said.
The measure would fund extended unemployment benefits, food stamps, Medicare and COBRA health insurance.
In a statement issued by the White House Wednesday, President Barack Obama said the bill would help "Americans who lost their jobs in the Great Recession."
"Today the House answered with some productive ideas to respond to this great need, offering new initiatives including repairing our roads and bridges, providing relief to Americans who have lost their jobs and preventing layoffs at the state and local level," the president said.
Obama said provisions in the measure the House passed Wednesday "complement the proposals I made last week to buttress small businesses with new tax cuts and increased lending and provide incentives to consumers who retrofit their homes."