Sen. Mitch McConnell (AP photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(Bloomberg) — The U.S. Senate today voted 60-37 to limit debate on S. 1845, a bill that would extend unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless.

A program that provides extra unemployment benefits expired Dec. 31.

S. 1845 backers needed 60 votes to pass a motion for cloture and arrange for the bill to move to the Senate floor.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, tried to use debate on the cloture motion to push for a one-year delay of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) penalty on individuals who fail to own a minimum level of health coverage.

McConnell said his party would support additional jobless benefits “if we could find a way to extend them without actually adding to the national debt.”

Delaying the PPACA individual coverage mandate would help cover the $6.4 billion cost of the unemployment benefits extension, McConnell said.

– With assistance from Margaret Talev, Michael C. Bender and Kathleen Hunter in Washington. Editors: Laurie Asseo, Jodi Schneider

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