July 23 2010, 9:44 AM
About three hours after the House approved a $34 billion extension of unemployment benefits---up to 99 total weeks---to those lucky enough to qualify for them, President Barack Obama signed the bill, which also adds incentives for small businesses. "Americans who are fighting to find a good job and support their families will finally get the support they need to get back on their feet during these tough economic times," Obama says in a statement, as the national unemployment rate hovers around 9.5 percent (via The Washington Post). The 272-152 vote essentially split Democrats, who favored it, and Republicans, who were opposed. Colorado's two Republican U.S. representatives, Doug Lamborn and Mike Coffman, voted against the measure. Joining them was a lone Colorado Democrat, Betsy Markey, who is expected to face a difficult re-election in the 4th Congressional District. One of just 10 Dems to vote against the measure, Markey's vote is no surprise, points out The Colorado Independent. Her concern echoed those voiced by the GOP. "The bill spent money without cutting somewhere else," says her spokesman, Ben Marter. "Representative Markey supported a measure that would have used [stimulus] funds to pay for it, but that measure failed, so the bill went straight to the deficit." Meanwhile, Fort Collins Coloradoan editor Bob Moore reports that the bulk of contributions to both Markey and her most threatening Republican opponent, state Representative Cory Gardner of Yuma, are coming from sources outside the district---namely, Washington, D.C., and Denver. Vanessa Martinez contributed to this post.