Senate Democrats aim to force vote on jobs bill

WASHINGTON Mon Oct 17, 2011 4:59pm EDT

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid speaks to the media after the U.S. Senate passed a bill allowing a rise in the debt ceiling on Capitol Hill in Washington August 2, 2011.       REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid speaks to the media after the U.S. Senate passed a bill allowing a rise in the debt ceiling on Capitol Hill in Washington August 2, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Joshua Roberts

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama's fellow Democrats in the Senate proposed a bill on Monday to enact into law a portion of his popular $447 billion jobs program that Republicans blocked last week.

The Democrats' bill would create or save, at a cost of $35 billion, 300,000 education jobs and another 100,000 jobs for firefighters, police officers and other first-responders, said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat.

Reid said he wants to get a Senate vote on the bill as early as this week to underscore the battle over the weak U.S. economy that features a stubbornly high 9.1 percent unemployment rate.

But aides said Republicans, who accuse Obama of political gimmicks, may prevent a vote until at least the first week in November when the Senate is set to return from an upcoming seven-day recess.

Reid threatened to delay the Senate recess if he senses that Republicans are dragging their feet.

"I am happy to keep the Senate in session as long as needed to make sure we get a vote on this jobs bill," Reid said in a conference call with reporters.

Regardless when it is held, Democrats are expected to fall short of the 60 votes needed in the 100-member chamber to clear a procedural hurdle. Democrats control the chamber 53-47.

Republican Senator John McCain took the floor of his chamber to promote the jobs bill he and fellow Senate Republicans offered last week.

"The difference between our plan and theirs is that we want to create jobs through growth and they want to create jobs through government spending," McCain said.

The Senate Republicans' bill features a fresh call for tax reform and cuts as well as a number of components previously proposed, but has stalled in the Democratic-led Senate.

They include steps to: require a balanced budget; repeal Obama's overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system; and lift prohibitions on offshore energy exploration.

Obama and Senate Democrats agreed to break the president's plan into pieces last week after Republicans blocked the overall bill.

Democrats want to build pressure on Republicans to back at least portions of the bill or explain to voters in advance of next year's elections why they oppose it. On Monday Obama began a bus tour of North Carolina and Virginia to promote his jobs plan.

A Wall Street Journal-NBC poll last week showed that Americans support the president's jobs bill by a 2-1 ratio.

Obama's overall proposal was designed to create an estimated 2 million jobs with a mixture of stimulus spending and tax cuts for the middle class and small businesses. The plan would be financed by a 5.7 percent surtax on millionaires.

Republicans opposed the bill, saying a tax increase would hurt rather than spur economic growth. Two Senate Democrats facing tough re-elections in largely conservative states also opposed the bill in a procedural vote last week.

Obama's Democrats have painted Republicans as obstructionists who care more about defeating the president than boosting the economy. But Republicans say the president would rather campaign on the issue of jobs than find a comprehensive bipartisan solution.

(Editing by Bill Trott and Eric Walsh)

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Comments (3)
DrJJJJ wrote:
Our government (Fed, state & local) is now 40% of US GDP (more than manufaturing & construction combined), our debt is over 100% of GDP ( about $18 Trillion when you count the IOUs for $2.7T for unfunded social security)and it cost 40 cents to spend a buck! Please tell me with a strait face these are cost effective dollars! Thanks, that’s what I thought- honesty is the best policy! Raise taxes on the rich and all of us and make deep spending cuts over time if you want to solve the problem-there is no substitute! Some vision without a way to pay for it is foolish socialism that doesn’t-the facts/results are in! Oh, see the gov data in Europe too if ya doubt and watch how militant the public sector gets this next year-it’s why we have to live BELOW our means! Our government is too big to function, too big too fail and too much debt to spend another non essential dime!

Oct 17, 2011 12:49pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
UnPartisan wrote:
Teachers, Firefighters, Police are all important to society. They don’t however contribute to job growth, nor the GDP, which is why Jobs bill #1 did not truly create jobs. This is a bill to save jobs, not create them. With our debt and deficit spending the way it is, this is just a temporary bill to keep things from getting worse, and will be paid for at some point with austerity, and the jobs will be lost then. How long do we kick the can down the road? No wonder America’s youth is protesting.

Oct 17, 2011 6:18pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Sensibility wrote:
A Wall Street Journal-NBC poll last week showed that Americans support the president’s jobs bill by a 2-1 ratio.

Here is the problem with public opinion polls: you hardly ever get alternatives. Were these people asked if they preferred the Republican proposal? Did they know what was in either? How can you say something is preferred 2 to 1 without noting how the alternatives are perceived.

Oct 17, 2011 11:27pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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