Long-delayed legislation to restore benefits for the long-term unemployed has cleared an initial Senate hurdle.
The 65-34 Thursday vote came as the White House issued a statement of support. The measure would restore benefits for five months, back to when they expired Dec. 28.
The program generally helps workers who have been off the job longer than 26 weeks.
Senate Democrats have been trying to renew the program for months. They were forced by Republicans to accept changes before the bill had the 60 votes needed to overcome procedural hurdles. Among them was a demand to offset the cost of nearly $10 billion and avoid raising the deficit.
Senate approval of the measure is possible next week, but the bill faces a chilly reception in the Republican-controlled House.