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Jobless Benefits Restored for 200,000-Plus

5 years ago
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Breaking a logjam, Congress voted to restore extended unemployment benefits to more than 200,000 Americans who were cut off for two weeks during a debate over how to pay for the $18 billion program.

President Obama signed the bill into law Thursday night.

Republicans have argued that cuts should be made in other programs to fund the unemployment benefits, which can extend to 99 weeks in some states. "What unemployed workers really want are jobs and paychecks, not almost two years of unemployment checks and more debt for our country," the New York Times quoted Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Tex.) as arguing before the bill won final passage in the House.

But three Republicans -- Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio, and Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe -- joined with Democrats in the 59-38 Senate vote favoring the extension. Democrats said the measure had to be treated as an "emergency" expense, meaning it would be added to the deficit.

"Holding unemployed Americans, hundreds of thousands of them, hostage to score what some think may be political points, I think is reprehensible," said Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.)

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