Senate vote to extend unemployment benefits set for Tuesday

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will hold a vote on an extension of unemployment benefits at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday. 

Senate Democrats put the bill on hold for another week until the Senate-designee from West Virginia, filling the seat left open after the death of Sen. Robert Byrd (D), arrives in Washington. The swearing-in of the as-yet-to-be-named replacement will be held at 2:15 p.m. Tuesday. 

The move will provide Democrats with the 60 votes needed to pass the bill. The Senate left Washington for the July 4 recess without passing a bill to extend those benefits because of a Republican filibuster. 

The Senate GOP has argued the $34 billion bill should be paid for instead of adding it to the debt. Two Republicans — Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe — have signed on to pass the bill, giving Democrats 59 of the 60 votes needed.

West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (D) is expected to announce the replacement by 5 p.m. Friday. 

Unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless expired June 2, leaving about 2.5 million people without a weekly check. The average American is out of work for more than eight months and many use up the 26 weeks of state benefits. 

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