By Andrew Taylor

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Senate has passed a bill aimed at boosting job growth by giving tax breaks to businesses that hire the unemployed.

The jobs legislation would also extend highway and mass transit programs through the end of the year and pump $20 billion into them in time for the construction season. Economists say the tax breaks could create perhaps 250,000 jobs.

It’s the first of several job-creation measures promised by Democrats, who also want to give cash-strapped states further help with their budgets and give subsidies to people who make their homes more energy efficient.

The measure passed by a bipartisan 70-28 and now goes back to the House, which passed a far more ambitious version in December.