The US Senate has passed a 10-billion-dollar emergency measure extending unemployment benefits, tax cuts and health insurance to the jobless until the end of March when a longer term package will be put in place.
AFP - The US Senate late Tuesday passed a 10-billion-dollar emergency measure extending unemployment benefits, ending a procedural block by a Republican senator that prevented payments to thousands since Sunday.
The measure passed in a 78-19 vote after the majority Democrats included an amendment proposed by Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning on changing the way the measure was to be financed so it would not add to the deficit.
The 10-billion dollar, 30-day emergency funding measure will now go before President Barack Obama to be signed into law.
The stopgap measure also extends tax cuts and health insurance to the jobless, and provides for highway maintenance until the end of March.
The emergency measure was needed after the previous funding bill expired on Sunday.
Bunning's logjam was strongly criticized by lawmakers.
House of Representatives Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Bunning's opposition was impacting 100,000 people immediately, 400,000 in the next two weeks and 1.5 million by the end of the month, and three million after two months.
"It's not about the legislative process or Senate rules," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, "it's about the rights of individuals to survive in America.
"It's about families putting food on the table, making their car payments, their house payments, sending their kids to school."
The Senate will now take up a 150-billion-dollar, long-term measure extending unemployment benefits and tax breaks for individuals and businesses to the end of the year.
Date created : 2010-03-03