The U.S. Senate Wednesday approved a $149 billion package of jobless aid and tax breaks as Democrats continued efforts to bring down the 9.7 percent unemployment rate before the November congressional elections.
The measure, which passed by a vote of 62 to 36, now heads to the House, where many Democrats have pushed for more aggressive job-creation measures.
Democrats say job creation is their top priority this year as they head into an election season that could possibly cost them control of Congress.
Both chambers have now passed two job-creation bills, but they have yet to resolve their differences and finish legislation that President Barack Obama can sign into law.
The bill passed by the Senate largely continues existing government policies. Jobless workers would see their unemployment aid and healthcare subsidies extended to the end of the year, while businesses would once again benefit from $25 billion worth of tax breaks that expired at the end of 2009.
Cash-strapped states would get $25 billion to help cover their portion of the Medicaid healthcare program for the poor.
The bill's $149 billion in new spending is offset by $37 billion in revenue raised by closing tax loopholes.
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