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(CNN) - The Senate voted Tuesday to open up debate on a bill that would restore long term unemployment benefits to 1.3 million people which dried up just before the new year. And even though Congress passed a bipartisan budget before Christmas, Democrats weren't able to insert an extension into it.
Today, six Republicans crossed party lines to vote with Democrats to open debate. For the bill to end up on President Barack Obama's desk, as he wishes, both the Senate and the House would still have to pass it.
Nevada Senator Dean Heller was the first Republican to say he'd vote with the Democrats. That earned him a handshake from Majority Leader Harry Reid on the floor afterward, but not such a warm reception as he walked back through his fellow Republicans.
Heller looked like a man alone among his colleagues on the right, though he told CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper" he didn't really get the cold shoulder.
"Everybody understands. The unemployment rate now in Nevada is at 9%. It's 7.3 nationwide," said Heller.
"The message here that I was hoping to bring out first day back, first full day back from our recess was maybe Republicans and Democrats can actually work together to get good things done," said Heller.
Heller said he thinks the bill will pass the Senate.
But Speaker of the House John Boehner has said he doesn't think any extension should come before the House without offsetting the spending with cuts elsewhere, and something to help create jobs. Heller said the House should vote on the bill.
"I truly do believe that reasonable people can come together, we can have a discussion on this," said the Senate Republican.
For more of our interview with Sen. Dean Heller, check out the video above.