Unemployment Benefits Extension Clears Hurdle

Legislation to restore unemployment benefits to millions who have been out of work for more than six months broke free of Senate Republican delaying tactics on Tuesday. Senators voted 60-40 to move ahead on the bill, clearing the way for a final Senate vote later on Tuesday. The measure would restore jobless checks for 2.5 million people whose benefits started running out seven weeks ago in a stubbornly jobless economic recovery. The vote was a modest victory for President Barack Obama and Democrats, whose more ambitious hopes for a jobs agenda have mostly fizzled in the face of GOP opposition in the Senate. A battle has raged for months over whether jobless benefits should be financed with additional federal debt as Democrats want or through cuts to other government programs as most Republicans insist. The vote came moments after Carte Goodwin was sworn in as a successor to West Virginia Democrat Robert Byrd, who died last month at the age of 92. Goodwin was the crucial 60th senator to defeat a Republican filibuster that has led to a lapse in benefits for 2.5 million people. The Senate gallery was packed with Goodwin supporters, who broke into applause as he cast his "aye" vote.