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Senate Democrats inch closer to jobs bill

By Ben Pershing
Senate Democrats are nearly done crafting the first of a planned series of job-creation bills, but are delaying a full rollout of the measure in hopes that they can attract some Republican support. Leaders hope to vote on the bill as early as Monday.

The basic outlines of the first jobs measure have already trickled out. With a total price tag of $81 billion, the bill would include a job creation tax credit, aid to small businesses so they can write off the costs of equipment purchases, a one-year reauthorization of the highway trust fund, money for Build America Bonds, extensions of expiring tax breaks, unemployment benefits and COBRA health insurance as well as a "fix" to prevent a cut in physician payments under Medicare.

Democratic leaders held a press conference Thursday morning on the jobs bill, but it quickly became clear at the event that they weren't ready to make an announcement on the specifics. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) wouldn't confirm what would be in the bill or how much it would cost, and aides cautioned the measure isn't yet set in stone.

"We're not going to, in effect, step on our message," Reid said, even though the briefing was called for the express purpose of delivering the party message. "I hope there will be a bipartisan presentation today or tomorrow at the latest."

Reid did say he wanted the Senate to vote on the first jobs bill Monday, pending some cooperation from across the aisle. A cloture vote Monday would allow final passage later in the week.

"We hope to have a bipartisan proposal that I will lay down on Rule 14 today. I'm hopeful that's the case, but if not we'll lay down one ourselves," Reid said, referring to a Senate rule allowing a bill to be put on the chamber's floor calendar without going through the committee process

As he did during health-care reform negotiations, Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) is taking the lead in seeking out Republican backing for the jobs bill. A minimum of GOP support will become necessary Thursday afternoon, when Scott Brown (Mass.) is sworn in as Republicans' 41st senator.

The likeliest GOP candidate to work with Democrats is Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah), who has collaborated with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to draft a measure that would let companies avoid paying Social Security taxes on new hires for the duration of 2010. That proposal is likely to be part of the first jobs bill that moves next week. Other job tax credit plans -- such as one offered by Sen. Robert Casey (D-Pa.) that would provide companies with a credit based on how much they increase their payroll -- could be part of subsequent bills.

"We will move immediately on some issues, and then we will keep going on different issues as we go through the year, but with a laser-like focus on jobs, because that's what the American people want and need," Schumer said Thursday.

According to a document released by Democrats Thursday, later jobs bills will include provisions to help small businesses get loans; encourage energy efficiency renovations to homes and businesses; fund school, transportation and water infrastructure projects; and give aid to states so they can avoid laying off teachers, police and firefighters.

Reid said that for the remainder of the year, "our number one emphasis is going to be creating jobs."

Reid also reacted sharply to a reporter's question that suggested "much of your agenda is paralyzed now" and that Democrats are plagued by internal divisions.

"I think you're imagining a lot of things that don't exist," Reid said. "We don't agree on everything, but we certainly agree on moving forward with a jobs agenda."

By Ben Pershing  |  February 4, 2010; 12:13 PM ET
Categories:  Capitol Briefing  
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Posted by: rothstein05 | February 5, 2010 4:53 AM | Report abuse

You can get full medical coverage at the lowest price from

Posted by: rothstein05 | February 5, 2010 4:52 AM | Report abuse

I agree with free-donny. Today's Republican Party has abandoned liberal Republican Eisenhower's ideals, which were similar to Pres. Obama's. So why are they attacking his agenda. He is a great thinker/writer/orator; the best since since Lincoln and he is biracial. Who is better suited to concentrate on the nation's problems instead of its prejudices?

Posted by: pagwingigi | February 5, 2010 12:59 AM | Report abuse

Republican Pres. Eisenhower was a liberal. How come Reps. avoid mentioning him and hold Reagan as their model? "Ike" poured money into infrastructur-Interstate Hiways, Nat.Parks,etc. He achieved full employment. We had our most prosperous years under him. People had jobs. He tried to serve all the people, rich and poor. Obama's ideology is more like Ike's than those of today's Republicans.

Posted by: pagwingigi | February 4, 2010 11:44 PM | Report abuse

Now that the Dems are coming clean on the full level of unemployment (ANOTHER 1,000,000 apparently not disclosed until now) do you thing we can get BO to VETO all the bills which have earmarks, pork, pet projects, no bid contract awards and paybacks for political votes and cash contributions?

Posted by: PRRWRITER | February 4, 2010 10:59 PM | Report abuse

These politicians have no idea how to create a job. Few of them have ever been in business and even fewer have started a business. What are the chances that Harry Reid and company can create a job? He soon will be trying to create one . . . his own. More sickening spending for no results. Adjust your cross hairs for the upcoming 2010 fish barrel shoot out.

Posted by: Bender2 | February 4, 2010 7:52 PM | Report abuse

the hardest jobs to find would be for the repuggies thrown out of work when we re-took America for all Americans and kicked them to the curb.

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | February 4, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

These DEMOCRAPS are going to vote on a bill that THEY HAVE NOT READ YET! ODUMBO the dirtbag wants this voted on BEFORE Brown gets to DC!

Posted by: Sparky15 | February 4, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

I question the motives and loyalty of those who stubbornly align themselves against America's economic recovery because of their hatred for the President.

Posted by: free-donny | February 4, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

What is with these democrats in Congress? They are "waiting to roll out the bill so as to attract some republican vote's"?

I'm beginning to truly believe that there is something drastically wrong with these Senator's.....what is it going to take to make them get it? The republican's are not going to work with them, they are certainly not going to support any bill that will benefit Americans. They will not, under any circumstances, give our president a win on any legislation.

The democratic members of Congress all need to be replaced, asap, in order to get any work done. It is up to the voters to replace these ineffective lawmakers.....any employee who performs so badly is not worth what they are paid, plenty in the case of members of Congress.

Posted by: liberalwesterngirl | February 4, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

iphony, you must have some info that has escaped me: where did you get the idea Obama is "African-American" when he has not one drop of known slave blood? Would you like to re-word your glowing defense of him? Thank you.

Posted by: churchlionjudah | February 4, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

The Republicans are not preventing anything except Obama's wild spending spree that will take a century or more to pay off! If anyone thinks the Repubs are obstructionists, just wait until the Tea Party comes on line, and Democrats start leaving wasington in wholesale lots! The Democrats have raped and robbed America LONG ENOUGH!

Posted by: churchlionjudah | February 4, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

If OBAMA achieves nothing else, at least he got an unmerited Nobel Peace Prize, fun trips to Oslo, Copenhage, Paris, Hawaii' on Air Force One. And he got to be the First African American President of the United States.

Posted by: iphony | February 4, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

I so agree. It appears to me that they will work to any extent to bring Obama down even to the detriment of their own country. They can find nothing good about Obama, will not acknowledge the trillion dollars we were already in debt when he took over and do nothing but work against everything he is trying to do to better our situation.

Posted by: carolo43 | February 4, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

The "Jobs Bill" addresses the one lagging economic indicator left.

Let the GOP obstruction begin!


10 month Dow return: + 48%

10 month Nasdaq return: + 53%

New data on GDP clearly showed 5.7% growth in 4th Quarter of 2009 - Fastest pace in 6 years.

Is there nothing the GOP won't do to prevent America's economic recovery?

I question the motives and loyalty of those who stubbornly align themselves against America's economic recovery because of their hatred for the President.

Posted by: free-donny | February 4, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

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