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Expanded vets benefits likely to clear Senate hurdle, faces roadblocks over GOP cost concerns

A Democratic bill expanding health, education and other benefits for veterans and their families is ready to clear an early Senate hurdle. But with Republicans unhappy about the measure's impact on federal deficits, its fate remains uncertain.

The Senate planned to vote Tuesday on whether to begin debating the legislation. It was expected to win the 60 votes needed to proceed.

But its fate after that is unclear. Republicans feel the measure is too costly and adds too much money to the deficit, but it is uncertain whether Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will give them a chance to offer amendments to the bill.

The chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, Vermont independent Bernie Sanders, says the measure would cost $21 billion over the next decade.

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