(NEWSER– Republicans today blocked legislation from advancing in the Senate to restore benefits for the long-term unemployed. Only four GOP senators voted to advance the legislation, which all 53 Democrats and two independents support. When its fate was sealed, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid switched his vote, which made the final tally 58-40, a parliamentary move that allows him to have the issue reconsidered in the future. An estimated 1.7 million jobless have been affected by the expiration of a program that once provided up to 47 weeks of federal benefits after state-paid assistance ended. Republicans want any such extension to be offset by budget cuts elsewhere, reports the Washington Post.

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