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Senate approves tax breaks for new hires Republican turns down White House summit invite

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Senate Democrats delivered the first of several promised election-year jobs bills Wednesday, passing a measure blending tax breaks for companies that hire unemployed workers with highway funding eagerly sought by the states. The bipartisan 70-28 vote to pass the bill sends it to the House, where many Democrats say it is too puny — and where a revolt was brewing among lawmakers who said its allocation of highway money among the states is unfair. But pressure is on to pass it anyway to score a badly needed win for President Barack Obama and a Democratic Party that's dropped badly in opinion polls and faces major losses in midterm elections. It's the first major bill to pass the Senate since the Christmas Eve passage of a deeply controversial health care bill and the subsequent election of Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown, which rocked Democrats by demonstrating their falling standing even among voters who tend to vote Democratic.

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