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President Bush and Republican congressional leaders have accepted a Democratic proposal to extend jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed, a GOP lawmaker said Wednesday.

Agreement on the $5.1 billion measure, to be debated by the House Ways and Means Committee Wednesday and by the full House Thursday, could mean the end to what has been a sharp four-month political battle between Congress and the White House."I'm given to believe that the White House and at least some in the Republican leadership have signed off on a compromise package," said Rep. Bill Archer, R-Texas, ranking Republican on the Ways and Means Committee.

Presidential spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said Wednesday he had not been told of an agreement.

"We think we're very close. Things are going very constructively, and we're very optimistic. We have not yet been notified we have an agreement," the presidential spokesman said.

"It may have happened, and we haven't been notified," Fitzwater added.

The plan would provide from six to 20 weeks of extra benefits to people who use up the regular 26 weeks of coverage.

Committee Chairman Dan Rostenkowski, D-Ill., offered the proposal to Republican leaders on Tuesday. House Minority Leader Robert Michel, R-Ill., and White House budget director Richard Darman said then that minor work, including an analysis by the Labor Department, was needed before they would endorse it.