WASHINGTON — The normally polarized US Senate united Thursday to approve a measure aimed at helping US armed forces veterans who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan to get jobs, and aiding government contractors.


The overwhelming 95-0 vote set the stage for the legislation's approval by the House of Representatives, which is expected next week and would send the bill to President Barack Obama to sign into law.

Obama's Democratic allies and Republican foes rallied behind the bill in a rare show of bipartisan unity on the issue of creating jobs, the top issue on voters' minds ahead of November 2012 elections.

The legislation, adopted a day before lawmakers head home to mark the Veterans Day holiday, calls for special tax credits for companies that hire former troops, who have struggled to find work in the job-hungry US economy.

It also repeals a 2006 law, which had not yet gone into force, requiring government agencies to withhold some payments to private contractors as a hedge against those who do not pay their taxes on time.

The law, enacted with broad bipartisan support at a time when Washington's reliance on contractors in war zones drew scrutiny and anger, requires agencies to withhold three percent of payments to contractors.

But supporters of a repeal, including the White House, said it unfairly punished the vast majority who play by the rules -- and could stifle hiring by those businesses at a time when the US economy sags under high joblessness.