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Senate Continues Jobs Drumbeat Next Week

Senate Democrats will continue to press ahead with their jobs agenda next week, with plans to advance a package of popular extensions for unemployment benefits and Medicaid payouts to states.

No votes are scheduled for Monday, but Senators will return Tuesday to vote to end debate on the measure and vote on its final passage.

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) blamed Republicans Friday for having to file procedural motions to clear the job creation measures, and he vowed to press on with the majority’s jobs agenda for the rest of the work period that ends on March 26.

“We’ll keep going. We’ll pass long-term extensions of unemployment insurance, of health benefits for the unemployed and of tax cuts for small businesses,” Reid said on the floor, hours after the Labor Department announced that the nation’s unemployment rate held steady last month at 9.7 percent.

Reid also said that after the Senate completes the benefits extension bill, he plans to bring up legislation reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Act.

Although that measure does not include any clear job-creation provisions, Democratic aides say Senators will try to make the case that it fits into their larger jobs agenda.

Next week, the Senate is also expected to return to an earlier jobs bill that provides a tax credit for small-business hiring. The Senate passed the $15 billion measure last month, but now must reconsider it after the House tweaked it to add sweeteners for the Congressional Black Caucus and fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrats.

The measure also includes expense deductions for small businesses, extends the Highway Trust Fund and provides funding for the Build America Bonds program. The amended House version has a $17.6 billion price tag.

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