Jobless benefit renewal bill faces Senate test vote on Wednesday

WASHINGTON – Legislation to renew an expired program of benefits for the long-term unemployed faces a test in the Senate on Wednesday. If it receives 60 votes, as expected, passage could come a day later.

The legislation would restore the benefit program for five months, retroactive to when it expired Dec. 28. In general, it helps workers who have been off the job longer than 26 weeks.

Democrats have been trying to restore the program since January, and have made concessions as they seek enough Republican support to amass the votes necessary to overcome a filibuster.

Among them was an insistence that the bill’s cost of nearly $10 billion be paid for, to avoid raising deficits.

The bill faces a frosty reception from majority Republicans in the House.