Senate votes to kill jobs bill; Reid, Heller split


WASHINGTON -- United against Barack Obama, Senate Republicans voted Tuesday night to kill the jobs package the president had spent weeks campaigning for across the country, a defeat at the hands of lawmakers opposed to stimulus-style spending and a tax increase on the very wealthy.

Forty-six Republicans joined with two Democrats to filibuster the $447 billion plan. Fifty Democrats had voted for it, but the vote was not final. The roll call was kept open to allow Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. to vote. The likely 51-48 tally would be short of the 60 votes needed to keep the bill alive in the 100-member Senate.

"Republicans unanimously voted against our nation's economic health to advance their narrow political interests," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said after the vote.

"Republicans will have to explain to the American people why they oppose common-sense, bipartisan solutions for putting Americans back to work," the Nevada Democrat said.

Reid voted to advance the bill, and Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., voted against it.

"Since the first stimulus, unemployment in Nevada has risen from 10.1 percent to the nation's highest at 13.4 percent," Heller said. "I have just one question, 'Is this working?'

"This plan recycles the same failed policies but this time increases taxes on the businesses we need to create jobs," he said.

The demise of Obama's jobs package was expected despite his campaign-style efforts to swing the public behind it.

Democrats already were moving on to alternative ways to address the nation's 9.1 percent unemployment, including breaking the legislation into smaller, more digestible pieces and approving long-stalled trade bills.

The White House appears most confident that it will be able to continue a 2-percentage-point Social Security payroll tax cut through 2012 and to extend emergency unemployment benefits to millions of people . The administration i s also hopeful of garnering votes for the approval of infrastructure spending and tax credits for businesses that hire unemployed veterans.

Democrats Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Jon Tester of Montana broke with their party on Tuesday night's vote. Every Republican present opposed the plan.

Democrats were not wholly united behind the measure. In addition to Nelson and Tester, Sens. Jim Webb, D-Va., Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent who aligns with Democrats, said they oppose the underlying measure despite voting to choke off the filibuster.

Obama's plan would combine Social Security payroll tax cuts for workers and businesses and other tax relief totaling about $270 billion with $175 billion in new spending on roads, school repairs and other infrastructure, and unemployment aid and help to local governments to avoid layoffs of teachers, firefighters and police officers.

Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault contributed to this report.

 

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