President Barack Obama quickly responded by urging the Republican-led House of Representatives to give the measure final approval so he can sign it into law.
"The Senate just took action on a bipartisan bill" to renew unemployment insurance Obama said in a Twitter message. "It's up to the House to follow suit."
The bill, passed by 59 to 38 votes, had long seemed certain to die in the House amid stiff Republican opposition. But pressure has mounted for the House to help the unemployed this election year.
Shortly after the Senate vote, seven House Republican wrote party leadership, asking that a House vote be held on the bill or on a similar measure.
In addition, the lead Republican sponsor of bipartisan Senate bill, Dean Heller of Nevada, said he wants to meet with House Speaker John Boehner and find a way to move the effort forward.
Boehner and other Republicans oppose the bill, saying it does not meet their demands that it include job creation provisions. Boehner has also called the measure "unworkable," citing concerns by state administrators.