House passes payroll tax cut, jobless benefit bill

Alan Fram, Associated Press
Congress sends payroll tax cut bill to Obama

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is seen during a news conference to talk about an accord on the payroll tax cut negotiations, Thursday, Feb., 16, 2012, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The GOP-controlled House has passed a bill renewing a payroll tax cut for 160 million workers and jobless benefits for millions more, backing the main items on President Barak Obama's jobs agenda in a rare burst of bipartisanship.

The bill passed Friday, 293-132. The Senate is expected to quickly follow and send the measure to Obama to sign.

Under the bill, workers will continue to receive a two percentage point increase in their paychecks, and people out of work for more than six months will keep jobless benefits averaging about $300 a week. Obama says these steps will aid the fragile recovery from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

The legislation also heads off a steep cut in reimbursements for physicians who treat Medicare patients.