Senate Republicans have voted to kill the $447 billion White House jobs bill despite weeks of barnstorming by President Barack Obama across the country.
Forty-six Republicans joined with two Democrats to delay the plan. The roll call was kept open last Tuesday night to allow Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen to vote. But it would have taken 60 votes in the 100-member Senate to keep the legislation alive.
The plan would have included Social Security payroll tax cuts for workers and businesses and other tax relief totaling about $270 billion. There also was to be $175 billion in new spending on roads, school repairs and other infrastructure — as well as jobless aid and help to local governments to avoid layoffs of teachers, firefighters and police officers.
Republicans opposed the measure over its spending to stimulate the economy and its tax surcharge on millionaires.
The latest stalemate takes place against the backdrop of a looming campaign that appears increasingly likely to degenerate into a political blame game over the shaky economy.
“Republican obstructionism has once against cost this nation millions of jobs,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said Wednesday morning. “It seems as if Republicans don’t really want to put Americans back to work. They believe a weak economy means a weak president.”
If Obama “were willing to work with us on more bipartisan legislation like this, nobody would even be talking about a dysfunctional Congress,” countered Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky.
“But as we all know that doesn’t fit in with the president’s re-election strategy. The White House has made it clear that the president is praying for gridlock, so he has somebody — besides himself — to point the finger at next November.”
For his part, Obama said that he will continue to pressure Congress to pass the bill.
“A lot of folks … will look at last night’s vote and say that’s it, let’s move on to the next fight,” the president told a group of Latino leaders in Washington. “But I’ve got news for them: Not this time. Not with so many Americans out of work. … We will not take ‘No’ for an answer.”
Democrats may begin pushing for formal congressional consideration of specific provisions in the package as early as the end of the month, according to one Democratic aide.
Among other things, Obama’s overall blueprint includes an extension and expansion of the current payroll tax cut, an extension of jobless benefits, new tax credits for businesses that hire the long-term unemployed, and additional money to help save and create jobs for teachers and first responders such as firefighters.
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