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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Tracking Dual Congressional Jobs Bills

The Senate approved a $140 billion package of tax breaks and aid to the unemployed Wednesday. Six Republicans joined 56 Democrats to pass the measure, 62 to 36. The Senate measure contains one-year extensions of unemployment benefits and COBRA health insurance, plus extra funding to help states pay for Medicaid. The bill would also help struggling private pension funds and block a scheduled cut in payments to doctors who treat Medicare patients. The bill carries renewals of several expired tax credits, including those for research and development, biodiesel, energy-efficient home improvements, and the deduction of state and local sales taxes.

The House moved a $154 billion package in December that included significant new spending for infrastructure projects, as well as aid to states to prevent layoffs of key personnel such as teachers, police and firefighters.

Separately, the Senate is expected to vote as soon as this week to send a $15 billion jobs package to the president's desk. That bill -- which would create a Social Security tax break for companies hiring new employees and reauthorize federal highway spending -- has passed the Senate once with bipartisan support. But because the House altered the bill slightly before approving it last week, the Senate will have to take it up once more. (Wash Post, 3/11/10)

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