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Test Vote Today on Unemployment Benefit Extension

WASHINGTON, DC -- It's considered the first showdown for Congress in the 2014 election year: A test vote in the Senate happens this morning that could affect jobless benefits for millions of Americans.
WASHINGTON, DC -- It's considered the first showdown for Congress in the 2014 election year: A test vote in the Senate happens this morning that could affect jobless benefits for millions of Americans.

The Senate is expected to hold a test vote today on a bill that would restart unemployment payments to more than a million Americans whose checks have been cut off.

Benefits for people out of work for more than six months expired last month.  Democrats need five Republicans to vote with them to move the bill forward..
Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), co sponsor of the legislation, says the payments go to people who badly need them.
"They need it to pay rent, to buy groceries, to keep the boiler running in subzero temperatures, to keep their families together, as they look for work."

Republicans say they're not opposed to renewing the benefits, but they want the bill to include spending cuts to pay the $6.2 billion tab.
"This bill borrows every penny of it. Just a total violation of promised fiscal responsibility," says Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)

The Obama Administration supports the bill as is. White House economist Gene Sperling argues Congress has extended these benefits many times before in tough job markets, without offsetting cuts.  "Fourteen of the last 17 times in 20 years that it's been extended, there's been no strings attached."

President Obama will push Congress to support the three month extension in a speech today at (white house) The white house.  He'll be joined by Americans whose unemployment checks have stopped arriving.

The Senate was supposed to hold the test vote Monday, but the weather impacting much of the nation delayed Senators from getting to Washington.


(Susan McGinnis, CBS News)


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