A controversial jobless benefits bill narrowly cleared a key Senate hurdle on Tuesday, over the objections of Republicans who complain the $6 billion measure is not paid for and accuse Democrats of playing politics.
Senators voted 60-37 to advance the bill extending long-term jobless benefits, which expired Dec. 28. Democrats needed 60 votes to move the bill forward.
"Today, I think we have given a bit of hope to millions of Americans, who are struggling in a difficult economy to find jobs, who are struggling to provide sustenance to their families," Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., said after the vote.
Backers of the extension still need to clear several additional votes in the Senate, before the GOP-controlled House can even consider it. House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, of Maryland, voiced hope that the Senate could pressure the House to act on the bill.
President Obama applied additional pressure during remarks at the White House on Tuesday, claiming it would boost the economy and help those who need it. "There are still a lot of people who are struggling," Obama said.