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Senate Reaches Deal on Unemployment Extension

They’ve been stalled on it for weeks, but tonight the Senate will vote on final passage of legislation providing a short-term extension of emergency unemployment benefits.

Republicans, behind Sen. Tom Coburn (Okla.), have been fighting the $18 billion proposal because the Democrats didn’t offset the cost with spending cuts elsewhere. But the office of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said this evening that Democrats have rallied a few Republicans behind the bill, leading Coburn to agree to tonight’s vote on final passage.

The bill extends the filing deadline for UI benefits through June 2 (retroactive to April 5), allowing those who have exhausted their 26 weeks of state benefits to access emergency federal help. It does not, however, create an additional tier of benefits for those who have exhausted everything they’re eligible for.

Aside from the UI provision, the bill also extends COBRA health benefits and delays a scheduled 21 percent pay cut for doctors treating Medicare patients.

After passage in the Senate, the bill will move to the House, where lawmakers are expected to pass it quickly. It then moves to Obama’s desk to become law.

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