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Gridlocked Senate fails again to pass unemployment extension

WASHINGTON-- On Wednesday night, a bare-bones measure to keep federally funded unemployment insurance checks headed to the long-term unemployed failed in the Senate. Moderate Republican Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine had signed on to vote for cloture on the $34 billion bill. But without Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), who passed away earlier in the week, Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) — the majority leader who hails from the state with the worst unemployment rate in the country — once again found himself stuck at 59 votes. By the time Byrd’s replacement is in place, in mid-July, two million Americans will have lost their benefits, and the bill extending them will have languished for some 11 weeks.