WASHINGTON (AP) - A bill to restore unemployment benefits to millions who have been out of work for more than six months has cleared a Senate hurdle.
The 60-40 vote came moments after Carte Goodwin, a successor to West Virginia Democrat Robert Byrd, was sworn in.
Goodwin was the crucial 60th senator to defeat a Republican filibuster that has led to a lapse in benefits for 2.5 million people.
A battle has raged for months over whether jobless benefits should be financed with additional federal debt as Democrats want or through cuts to other government programs as most Republicans insist.
After a final Senate vote, the House will take up the bill Wednesday.
President Barack Obama is likely to sign it into law by week's end.
PRESIDENT OBAMA REACTS
(Full statement from the White House)
"Today marks an important step toward passing the unemployment insurance extension which is critical to millions of Americans fighting to find a job, put food on the table and make ends meet during this tough economic time. After a partisan minority blocked this critical aid to our nation's families three separate times, the Senate has moved forward on restoring benefits to the 2.5 million Americans whose livelihood has been held hostage by obstruction and game playing over the past weeks.
I will continue to fight for economic policies that will lead us out of this mess, and press Congress to act on more proposals to create new American jobs and strengthen our recovery, including a small business jobs bill, aid for struggling states to prevent layoffs, and tax cuts for middle class families. Americans who are struggling to find a job and get back on their feet deserve more than the same political game-playing and failed policies that helped cause this recession. And I thank the members of the Senate who stood on the side of these working families today."
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. WSFA 12 News contributed to this report. All Rights Reserved.)