Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, steps off an elevator as she arrives for a vote on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2009. Collins, signaled Wednesday she's open to voting for sweeping health care legislation this year, putting President Barack Obama closer to a historic achievement that has eluded generations of Democratic leaders. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Legislation long sought by Democrats to prevent layoffs of tens of thousands of teachers, police and other public workers has passed the Senate.
The bill would help states and local school boards deal with severe budget problems. It would preserve the jobs of perhaps 300,000 public employees across the country by extending programs in last year's stimulus law. It passed 61-39 Thursday, after months of blocking tactics by Republicans.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi is calling House lawmakers back to Washington
next week from their summer vacation to cast the final votes to deliver the bill to President Barack Obama.
Unlike the stimulus bill, the $26 billion measure wouldn't increase the budget deficit since it's paid for with spending cuts and tax increases on U.S. companies operating overseas.
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