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Congress backs home tax credit extension

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Congress on Wednesday approved a bill extending the closing deadline for homebuyers trying to take advantage of a popular tax credit.

Homebuyers with contracts signed by April 30 who failed to go to closing by the June 30 deadline will now have until September 30 to complete their purchases. The House of Representatives on Tuesday approved the bill and it now goes to President Barack Obama for his signature.

The $8,000 tax credit for first time homebuyers and $6,500 credit for others purchasing a new primary residence was a highly popular temporary measure by the Obama administration to jump start home sales during the economic recession.

Real estate agents said thousands of homebuyers would miss the June 30 deadline because banks and settlement offices were struggling to deal with the volume of people rushing to close on their deals.

"In addition to helping thousands of families experience the American dream, this successful and popular program provides a much needed boost to Nevada's housing market and economy," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in a statement.

Reid, a Democrat, faces a tough re-election fight in Nevada, where the U.S. foreclosure crisis is most pronounced.

The Senate acted separately on the tax credit extension after another bill that included both the homebuyers measure and an extension of jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed was blocked by Republicans.

The jobless aid bill fell one vote short of the 60 needed to overcome procedural hurdles in the 100-member Senate. Republicans objected to the $34 billion cost of the bill.

The Democratic-backed bill would have extended the federal jobless aid program through November. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell offered a two month extension that was paid for by using unspent money from last year's economic stimulus program and Democrats objected.

Reid said he would try again to pass the jobless aid bill after the Senate returns from the July 4 holiday recess.

(Reporting by Donna Smith; editing by Anthony Boadle)

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