CQ TODAY ONLINE NEWS
Oct. 19, 2011 – 11:13 p.m.
Reid Pledges Vote on Leaner Jobs Bill
By Sam Goldfarb, CQ Staff
Senate Democrats are determined to take a vote on their latest jobs bill before the chamber leaves town for a weeklong recess, although the measure is almost certain to be rejected.
After sending mixed signals over the past few days, Majority Leader
Reid made his announcement at a campaign-style rally alongside Vice President
The boisterous and politically charged setting was intentional. The bill would provide $35 billion to state and local governments, and the vote is designed to give the public a clear idea about where Democrats and Republicans stand on economic issues ahead of the 2012 election.
Noting that 14 million Americans are officially counted as unemployed, Reid told the rally that he would not let the Senate go home without taking up the jobs bill. “We are going to make sure there is a vote on our bill this week,” he said to applause.
To the frustration of some Democrats, action on the measure has been delayed while the Senate debates a fiscal 2012 appropriations bill (
Regardless of what happens to the spending legislation, the Senate is committed to a procedural vote on the jobs measure by Friday morning at the latest, after Reid filed a cloture motion to allow the chamber to proceed to the bill late Wednesday.
The test vote might occur Thursday, if a unanimous consent agreement is reached to hasten the process. Earlier Wednesday, Minority Leader
With the chamber not in session next week, senators are eager to leave town. A Friday vote could be difficult for lawmakers who had already made plans to start their recess early.
Reid must muster 60 votes to end a filibuster on the motion to proceed to the bill, and Republicans clearly have enough votes to block him. McConnell, for one, has sharply criticized the measure as a “bailout” for state governments struggling to deal with tepid economic growth and a resulting shortfall in tax receipts. Republicans also object to the 0.5 percent surtax on household income above $1 million that would offset the new spending.
At least two senators who caucus with Democrats —
McConnell also parried Reid’s move to force a vote on the jobs bill with a measure of his own that would attract Republican and possibly Democratic votes.
Reid Pledges Vote on Leaner Jobs Bill
McConnell filed a cloture motion Wednesday on a bill (
At Wednesday’s rally, Biden dismissed criticism that the Democrats’ jobs measure would offer only short-term assistance to governments and the teachers and first-responders they employ.
“Let me tell you, there’s nothing temporary about kindergarten being eliminated, because it has an effect on that child the rest of their life,” he said. “There is nothing temporary about the child that gets 20 percent less attention in the early years of class because class size has increased by 20 to 30 percent.”
Overall, the bill being pushed by Democrats would allocate $30 billion in grants to state and local governments to spend on teachers and $5 billion in grants to governments and other groups to pay for law enforcement officers and emergency personnel.
In a recent Gallup poll, spending federal money to keep teachers and first-responders employed was backed by 75 percent of respondents. Democrats have repeatedly pointed to that poll as evidence that Republicans are taking a political risk by blocking this latest measure.
Democratic leaders have said they eventually want to vote on four separate portions of Obama’s broader $447 billion package, which failed to advance as one bill in the Senate last week.
While they have not said what the next three bills would include, likely components include an extension and possible expansion of the current Social Security payroll tax cut for employees and new infrastructure spending.
Niels Lesniewski contributed to this story.