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Senate advances bill to renew jobless benefits

Attendees line up for an interview with a prospective employer at a job fair in Washington, August 6, 2009. REUTERS/Jason Reed
Attendees line up for an interview with a prospective employer at a job fair in Washington, August 6, 2009. REUTERS/Jason Reed

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Democratic-led U.S. Senate agreed by a voice vote on Monday to begin debate on a bipartisan bill to renew expired jobless benefits for 2.2 million Americans.

The action cleared a second Republican procedural roadblock in as many weeks and moved the bill toward anticipated Senate passage later this week.

But the White House-backed measure is expected to die when it reaches the Republican-led House of Representatives.

House Speaker John Boehner, the top Republican in Congress, has called the bill "unworkable," citing concerns by state administrators.

Boehner and other Republicans also oppose the bill because it does not meet their demands that it include provisions to create jobs.

Backers of the legislation reject the criticism and note that such emergency relief in the past routinely received strong bipartisan support.

The measure would restore benefits for five months, retroactive to December 28, when they began to expire for those who have been out of work for half a year.

(Reporting by Thomas Ferraro; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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