Test Votes Postponed on Unemployment Bill

By Associated Press | 

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Senate postponed a pair of test votes on stalled unemployment legislation on Monday as Republicans and Democrats sought a compromise to restore benefits to 1.3 million long-term jobless workers who lost them abruptly late last year.

The postponement came after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada met privately with two Republicans on the measure, the first in what looms as a series of election-year bills in which the political parties vie for support from economically strapped voters.

As drafted, the legislation would restore federal benefits for the unemployed who have exhausted their state-provided support, generally 26 weeks. An earlier program expired on Dec. 28, cutting off about 1.3 million victims of the recession who had been receiving an average $256 weekly.

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