ST. PAUL -- Legislative leaders are closing in on a deal to extend unemployment insurance for thousands of laid-off miners on the Iron Range.

The long-awaited agreement had been hung up for weeks on a dispute over a tax break for businesses. House Republicans had pushed to have that measure linked to a 26-week unemployment extension.

Minnesota's Senate unanimously passed the tax break Thursday morning. Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt told Gov. Mark Dayton the House would pass both bills later Thursday, according to the governor's office.

It's an abrupt change from earlier Thursday, when Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk doubted whether a relief package would come together.

The tax break provision will dole out $258 million from the state's unemployment fund to the employers that furnish it.