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Senate passes bill boosting payments to veterans

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate has sent the White House a bill giving nearly 4 million veterans and survivors a 1.7 percent increase in their monthly benefit payments next year.

The normally routine measure was delayed for weeks because an unidentified Republican senator objected to it.

That objection was lifted, without explanation, when Congress returned this week. The Senate then acted quickly to ensure that checks issued beginning in January reflect the adjustment for the higher cost of living.

The House approved the measure in July. The bill now goes to President Barack Obama for his signature.

Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state, a Democrat who chairs the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, welcomed the financial boost. Murray says veterans need the extra money to help make ends meet during a difficult economy.

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