President Obama on Thursday signed a six-month extension of emergency jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed, hours after the House approved the measure on a vote of 272 to 152.
The bill will revive a program that provides income support to those who have exhausted state benefits, restoring aid to nearly 3 million people who have seen their checks cut off since the program expired June 2. It would provide a total of up to 99 weeks of support, including the state aid. Advocates for the unemployed said checks in some states are likely to go out quickly; in others, people can expect a delay of several weeks.
With unemployment at 9.5 percent, both parties agreed that aid should be extended to people who have lost their jobs. But until the Senate passed it on Wednesday, the legislation was mired for months in an increasingly bitter election-year battle over whether the government should add to an already bloated national debt to bolster the sluggish economic recovery.