Posted on 23 Feb 2010
In a rare bipartisan breakthrough, the Senate pushed a $15 billion measure intended to spur job creation over a crucial preliminary obstacle Monday night after five Senate Republicans broke ranks to back consideration of the Democratic leadership initiative.
The test vote of 62-30 makes it likely the Senate will approve the measure that Democrats said would create tens of thousands of new jobs, improving the struggling national employment market. But whether the House will go along with the legislation without making substantial changes remains to be seen.
After being repeatedly stymied by Republicans on a series of initiatives and nominations, Democrats were elated with the outcome and expressed gratitude to the Republicans who joined in bringing the measure to the floor.
“Today jobs triumphed over politics,” said Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California.
Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts, the newly elected Republican, was the first to join Democrats in backing the measure. He was then joined by Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, George Voinovich of Ohio and Christopher Bond of Missouri, who voted after it became obvious Democrats would prevail. Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska was the sole Democrat to oppose beginning debate on the measure.
Mr. Brown said he backed the measure grudgingly since even its sponsors acknowledge it is limited in scope.
“It is the first step in creating jobs, not only for the people of Massachusetts but for the people of the country,” said Mr. Brown, who said he intended to pursue other proposals such as an across-the-board cut in payroll taxes.
The central element of the measure drafted by Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, is a $13 billion plan to give companies who hire unemployed Americans an exemption from paying payroll taxes on those workers through the end of this year.
Republicans complained about the way the measure was handled and that they would be prohibited from offering any amendments.
“Millions of Americans want to get back to work,” said Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader. “That’s why Republicans will offer ideas that will make it easier for businesses to hire new workers. Those ideas should be considered too.”