Congress is getting ready to send $26 billion to help states and school districts hurting for cash.
Senate Democrats broke a GOP filibuster Wednesday by 61-38 vote, setting a bill to extend programs enacted in last year's stimulus law on pace to pass the Senate Thursday.
The measure is supposed to help states ease their severe budget problems with programs like Medicaid and stop the layoffs of up to 300,000 teachers, firefighters, police officers, and other public employees.
"This legislation makes a difference," said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. "Real people in real jobs. Real paychecks."
The measure comes after successful efforts to extend unemployment insurance for the jobless and to give a payroll credit this year to businesses that hire the unemployed.
Democrats said the bill is necessary to save those jobs but Republicans argue the bill amounts to just more stimulus spending and call it a payoff to union bosses and liberal special interests.
The House was being called back from its summer break for an expected final vote next week to help cash-strapped states and school districts.