Weather problems delay test Senate vote on extending jobless benefits

WASHINGTON (CNN) --  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has decided to delay a key procedural vote originally scheduled for Monday on a $6.4 billion plan to extend long-term unemployment insurance benefits to eligible workers for another three months.

The vote was rescheduled for Tuesday.

The timing was changed because several Senators had not yet returned to Washington from their holiday break due to weather-related flight delays and cancellations.

Seventeen lawmakers were not in the chamber, Texas Republican John Cornyn said just before the postponement.

A razor close margin was expected in the first partisan showdown of the New Year in Washington over the proposal to aid some 1.3 million Americans whose jobless benefits expired last month.

The projected outcome of the vote was too close to call, senior aides from both parties said.

Extending benefits is a top political priority for congressional Democrats and President Barack Obama, who is trying to make income equality a centerpiece of his second term.

Many Republicans argue an extension would hurt the economy and act as a disincentive to job creation. Others members of the GOP have signaled they might back one if the cost is offset elsewhere in the budget.