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Published: Monday, 6/21/2010

Senate fails to approve economic package


WASHINGTON - An economic package that would extend jobless benefits and raise taxes on investment fund managers failed a key vote in the U.S. Senate Thursday, dealing another blow to President Obama's plan to boost economic growth and create jobs.

The legislation, which would extend popular business tax breaks and stop a 21 percent pay cut for doctors treating Medicare patients, was a smaller version of legislation the Senate rejected earlier this week on concerns it would add to the already bloated budget deficits.

The latest version would have added about $55 billion to the deficit over 10 years, compared to about $80 billion for the earlier version.

But the scaled-back bill failed to garner the 60 votes needed in the 100-member Senate to overcome solid Republican opposition. The vote was 56-40.

Democrats have been pushing for the bill that was backed by Mr. Obama as part of his plan to help boost the economy.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus earlier expressed confidence that leaders eventually will muster the votes needed to pass the bill, but it is unclear when the Senate will take up the package again.

The bill also extended higher Medicaid payments for cash-strapped states.

The House of Representatives has passed its version of the bill.

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