Senate Passes Jobless Benefits Extension : The Two-Way Senate Passes Jobless Benefits Extension
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Senate Passes Jobless Benefits Extension

Joined by the late Sen. Robert Byrd's temporary replacement as well as two moderate members of the minority party, Senate Democrats overcame Republican resistance to approve an extension to federal unemployment benefits.

Senate Democrats needed every last vote to overcome a Republican filibuster on the legislation, which meant waiting until the arrival and Senate-in swearing of Sen. Carte Goodwin from W. Virginia.

Goodwin, as well as Maine's two Republican senators, Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, gave Senate Democrats the 60 votes they needed to break a deadlock caused by Republican opposition.

Senate Republicans said they, like Democrats, supported a $34 billion extension of jobless benefits to workers whose lengthy periods of unemployment meant they were running out of money.

Where Republicans differed with Democrats however was in the minority party's insistence that the extension be paid for so as not to add it to the deficit. They specifically wanted remaining funds used from $787 billion stimulus used.

But Senate Democrats charged that Republicans hadn't worried during past presidencies about extensions of unemployment insurance adding to the deficit. Democrats, including President Barack Obama, accused Republicans of playing election-year politics.