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Obama to push for extension of jobless benefits

HONOLULU — President Barack Obama has told two senators proposing to extend expiring federal unemployment benefits that he plans to push Congress to do it quickly.

More than 1 million Americans will lose benefits Saturday because Congress didn’t extend them. Republican Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada and Democratic Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island have proposed extending the benefits for three months.

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Obama called the two senators separately on Friday. The White House says Obama offered his support for their proposal and called it an urgent economic priority. Obama says the abrupt cut-off in cash assistance during the holidays will hurt economic growth and jobs.

Obama economic adviser Gene Sperling says the Senate will hold a vote on the proposal as soon as Congress returns next month.

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