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Employees and union members rally outside the New Jersey statehouse on June 20 in opposition to the benefits bill. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — The New Jersey Assembly passed landmark legislation Thursday that requires public employees to pay sharply more for pension and health benefits, driving a wedge through the Democratic caucus that controls the chamber but was deeply divided on the bill.

The 46-32 vote followed hours of often bitter closed-door debate among Democrats, then hours of emotional public speeches on the Assembly floor. Uniformed state troopers escorted several people from the gallery for disrupting the debate with cheers and jeers.

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