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Congress sends payroll tax cut bill to Obama

Published: Friday, Feb. 17, 2012 11:25 a.m. CST • Updated: Friday, Feb. 17, 2012 11:26 a.m. CST

WASHINGTON – Congress has passed legislation renewing a payroll tax cut for 160 million workers and jobless benefits for millions more, backing the main items on President Barack Obama's jobs agenda in a rare burst of Washington bipartisanship.

The Senate approved the $143 billion measure by a bipartisan 60-36 vote. That tally came minutes after the House approved it by a sweeping 293-132 vote.

Obama is expected to sign it into law shortly after returning from a West Coast fundraising swing.

Under Friday's measure, workers would continue to receive a two percentage point increase in their paychecks and people out of work for more than six months would keep jobless benefits averaging about $300 a week. It would also head off a steep cut in reimbursements for physicians who treat Medicare patients.

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