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Unemployment, Healthcare on US Congress Agenda

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The U.S. Congress returns to work this week after a holiday break. Lawmakers have a list of potentially contentious issues to consider in an election year that will determine control of the Senate and House of Representatives.

One of the first items is the extension of emergency payments to long-term unemployed workers, which is up for a vote Monday in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

But the extension must also pass the Republican-controlled House. There is little interest among Republicans to again pass an emergency extension in financial aid to the 1.3 million Americans whose benefits stopped on December 28, unless there are cuts elsewhere.

Republicans will continue their focus on the president's health care law, beginning with the introduction of data security legislation they say is aimed at protecting the American people.

Congress is also facing a January 15 deadline for a vote to keep the government running or else face a partial government shutdown.



A bill is likely to pass after lawmakers' ratings plummeted following last year's shutdown.

Elections for all House of Representative members and one third of the Senate seats will be held in November.

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