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Jobless bill clears hurdle in bipartisan surprise

January 7, 2014 • Business


Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, of Ky., right, accompanied by Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., the Republican Policy Committee chairman, arrives to tell reporters that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev., and his political tactics are almost entirely responsible for making the Senate dysfunctional, following a procedural vote on legislation to renew jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed, Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Election-year legislation to revive expired federal jobless benefits unexpectedly cleared an early hurdle on Tuesday, offering a hint of bipartisan compromise in Congress and a glimmer of hope to the long-term jobless and their families.

“Let’s get this done,” implored President Barack Obama at the White House, shortly after six Republicans sided with Democrats on a 60-37 Senate vote to keep the measure alive.

Even so, the fate of the three-month reinstatement remained uncertain in an atmosphere of intense partisanship at the dawn of an election year.

The two parties have made it clear they intend to battle for the support of millions of voters who have suffered economically through the worst recession in decades and the slow, plodding recovery that has followed.

The often-cited phrase is “income disparity” — the gap between the rich and the economically squeezed. Democrats are expected to follow the effort on jobless benefits with another pocketbook measure, a proposal to increase the federal minimum wage.

The maneuvering on Tuesday was intense. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell proposed paying for the renewal of federal jobless benefits by delaying a requirement for millions of Americans to purchase coverage under “Obamacare” — an attempt to force Democrats to take a public Login to read more

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