Pennsylvania House passes bill to keep unemployment benefits

    A bill to keep up to 13 weeks of federal emergency jobless benefits for an estimated 45,000 Pennsylvanians is one step closer to the finish line, the Associated Press reports.

    The state House of Representatives voted unanimously to pass the bill Thursday. Senate action and a signature by Gov. Tom Corbett were expected later this week.

    Without prompt passage of the bill, benefits for 45,000 Pennsylvanians could be interrupted. If nothing is done, another 90,000 unemployed people could miss out on the 13-week benefit in 2011.

    Preventing the loss of the federal benefits requires a small, technical change in state law. But lawmakers also inserted several provisions in the bill to begin whittling away at Pennsylvania’s $3.7 billion debt to the federal government for the cost of unemployment benefits during and after the recession.

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