ABC’s Z. Byron Wolf reports:
Senators 98-0 voted tonight to extend unemployment benefits by 20 weeks in states hardest hit by the economic downturn and by 14 weeks everywhere else. They also extended an $8,000 first-time home buyers tax credit to homes placed under contract by the end of next April. People who have lived in their current house for five years and want to buy a new house will be newly eligible for a $6,500 tax credit. The unanimous vote belies a more than month-long delay on the legislation. First, Democrats sparred over what form the bill should take. Then, Republicans held up passage to force votes on amendments relating to TARP, stimulus, ACORN and immigration. Democrats waited out the legislative clock rather than allow the votes. Party leaders finally reached an agreement to vote tonight, a day before Senate rules would have exhausted the objections by Republicans. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives, which passed a different version in September. The House is expected to simply vote on the Senate version as soon as tomorrow.