June 27, 2008 / 2:07 AM / 11 years ago

Congress sends Bush expanded jobless benefits

Manpower staffing specialist Noah Polorny administers a test to Kyle Scott as he signs up with the temp agency in Park Ridge, Illinois April 10, 2008. REUTERS/John Gress

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Senate on Thursday approved legislation expanding benefits for the long-term unemployed who are struggling in an ailing economy, clearing the way for President George W. Bush to sign it into law.

By a vote of 92-6, the Senate approved the additional jobless benefits, which were attached to an unrelated Iraq war-funding bill that the Bush administration supports.

The House of Representatives passed identical legislation on June 19.

Under the bill, the approximately 1.55 million unemployed workers who exhaust the 26 weeks of government checks they normally receive would get an additional 13 weeks of help while they search for a new job.

The additional benefits are estimated to cost $8.2 billion.

Democrats have been pushing an extension of unemployment benefits all year.

But with presidential and congressional elections a little more than four months away, and with U.S. joblessness growing, Republicans in Congress and Bush agreed to a more modest expansion of benefits than Democrats sought.

In May, the U.S. unemployment rate jumped up to 5.5 percent, its highest level in more than 3 1/2 years.

The extended benefit would expire at the end of next April.

Reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Eric Walsh

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