WASHINGTON -- Amid deep election-year worries about high unemployment, the US Senate voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to send President Barack Obama a 17.6-billion-dollar package aimed at creating jobs.

"It is the first of what I hope will be a series of jobs packages," Obama told reporters shortly after the 68-29 vote, which drew support from 11 Republican senators.

"I also want to say to Republicans who voted for this bill that I appreciate their willingness to work with Democrats in a bipartisan fashion to get America moving again," said the president.

Obama and his Democratic allies worry the party could pay a steep political price for nearly 10-percent US unemployment in the November mid-terms elections that will decide control of the US Congress.

The legislation includes tax breaks for businesses that hire new workers and infrastructure investments, both for items like highway construction and to help states build schools and pursue other projects.

"This is a good day for American workers," said Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer. "Congress is focusing on what the American people want us to focus on, which is jobs, jobs, jobs."