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President Obama took aim at Republican lawmakers yesterday, accusing them of holding the public hostage to Washington politics by blocking extended unemployment benefits for millions of out of work Americans.

“It’s time to do what’s right, not for the next election, but for the middle class,’’ Obama said in the Rose Garden yesterday morning.

Lawmakers have battled for weeks over legislation extending unemployment benefits to workers who have been out of a job for long stretches of time. The last such extension expired at the end of May, leaving some 2.5 million people without benefits, with hundreds of thousands more losing benefits each week.

The Senate is set to take up the measure again today, immediately following the swearing in of a replacement for Senator Robert Byrd, who died June 28. Filling that seat will give Democrats the 60 votes they need to block a Republican filibuster.

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