A coalition of Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Congress united to extend a payroll tax cut through the rest of the year, less than two weeks before it was scheduled to expire.

The Senate today cleared the $145 billion measure 60-36, minutes after the House passed it 293-132. White House spokesman Jay Carney said President Barack Obama would sign the package "right away."

In addition to the two percentage-point tax cut for workers, the agreement will continue expanded unemployment benefits and avoid a cut in doctors' Medicare reimbursements through the end of this year. The provisions would have expired at the end of the month if Congress didn't act.

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