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Unemployment Insurance Falls Just Short In House

House Democrats fell just three votes short in their drive to pass an extension of unemployment insurance benefits Wednesday night, however, party leaders vowed they would bring the bill up again on Thursday.

Though the House voted 279-144 in favor of the measure, it fell just three votes short of the two-thirds majority necessary to pass the bill under suspension,  a procedure which limits debate and does not allow amendments.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said the House Rules Committee would meet Wednesday night to pass a rule and that the bill would be on the House floor sometime Thursday.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) called the vote a "small political bump in the road" and predicted the measure would pass when it was brought up again.

In the face of a veto threat from the White House, Democrats were hoping for a strong showing on the bill to show President Bush the measure enjoyed strong bipartisan support.

Earlier in the day Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Senate Democrats are hoping to take up the issue, however it is unlikely they would have the 60 votes necessary to overcome a Republican fillibuster.

The measure would have extended unemployment benefits for 13 weeks longer than 26 weeks already mandated by federal law. In addition,  some states with high unemployment would receive an additional 13 weeks of benefits.

Last month the unemployment rate jumped from 5 percent to 5.5 percent, the largest increase in 22 years.

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