Senate vote dooms Obama jobs plan
The Democrat-led Senate effectively killed President Obama's $447 billion jobs plan Tuesday as the White House and Democratic lawmakers talked of breaking Obama's plan into pieces to try to push it through Congress.
WASHINGTON — The Democrat-led Senate effectively killed President Obama's $447 billion jobs plan Tuesday as the White House and Democratic lawmakers talked of breaking Obama's plan into pieces to try to push it through Congress.
Senators voted 50-49 on a procedural move to take up the plan, but 60 votes were required for lawmakers to proceed on the measure.
Democrats control the chamber with 53 votes, but two Senate Democrats facing tough re-election bids — Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Jon Tester of Montana — voted with 46 Republicans to turn aside the plan.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., also joined the opposition in a tactical move that permits him under Senate rules to call the measure back for future votes.
Obama has been crisscrossing the country trumpeting the bill and predicting that its defeat would be the fault of obstructionist Republicans.
He also proposed salvaging his plan by breaking the bill into smaller pieces and trying to get Congress to pass them one by one.
"If they don't pass the whole package, we're going to break it up into constituent parts," Obama said during a Tuesday meeting with his Jobs Council in Pittsburgh. "And having the relevant businesses get behind an effort to move this infrastructure agenda forward is a priority."
Even breaking it into separate pieces might not save the plan. Some senators who had serious reservations about his whole plan, but voted to debate it, indicated various portions still seriously trouble them. "If a vote was called on the American Jobs Act as it is now ... I would vote against it," said Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., who voted to move forward with debate Tuesday.
Leaders in the Republican-controlled House already had proclaimed the package dead on arrival — and they control enough votes to ensure that.
The president's plan calls for $175 billion in new federal spending for highway and other public-works projects, an extension of unemployment benefits, and help for states to prevent teacher layoffs. It also offers $272 billion in tax relief for companies and individuals through cuts in payroll taxes and accelerated deductions for business investments.
Obama initially wanted to pay for his proposal by increasing taxes on individuals earning more than $200,000 and joint filers earning more than $250,000. That was highly unpopular among both Senate Democrats and Republicans.
Democratic lawmakers scuttled the White House payment proposal last week and replaced it with a 5.6 percent surtax on income of more than $1 million — sharpening the political message of how Democrats differ from Republicans in focusing higher taxes on the rich.
Congressional Republicans, who supported a payroll-tax cut last year and backed tax breaks for businesses in the past, opposed the increased spending in Obama's plan and the tax surcharge.
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