The U.S. Senate voted Monday to end debate on a bill to extend unemployment benefits and COBRA health insurance subsidies that also includes a reauthorization of the national flood insurance program.
The vote to end a Republican fillibuster was 60 to 34, with Republicans Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, and George V. Voinovich of Ohio siding with Democrats. Six senators did not vote.
The Senate is now free to take up the actual measure this week, although the final vote could still be days way. There is no guarantee that all who voted to end debate will support the bill itself.
The entire measure is estimated to add $9 billion to the deficit. Republicans argued that the funds for the benefits should be designated before the extension is passed, while Democrats said the unemployment situation amounts to an emergency.
The flood insurance program has been unable to issue new policies for two weeks since Congress adjourned without passing the extension.
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