Unemployment Aid Approved for Final Vote

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A sweeping bill that would extend unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless passed a major Senate hurdle, Tuesday.

Eight Republicans voted with Democrats in favor of the legislation-- preventing a filibuster and setting up a final vote on Wednesday.

The $107 billion spending measure will give additional months of benefits to those unemployed for more than six months.

It also includes tax breaks for individuals and businesses that expired last year and gives cash-strapped states help with Medicaid. The bill does not include new ideas for boosting jobs, but instead rehashes elements from last year's $862 billion stimulus bill.

Democrats said the unemployment benefits inject demand into the economy and say renewing the tax cuts helps preserve existing jobs.

The measure would increase highway spending and give tax breaks to companies that hire the unemployed and could clear the Senate for Obama's desk this week.

Democrats said the measure is desperately needed even though it adds to the federal deficit.

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