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Jobs agenda stalled at both ends of the Capitol

By Ben Pershing
Two days after the Senate passed a jobs bill with bipartisan fanfare, Democrats' efforts to boost the economy are now stalled at both ends of the Capitol.

In the House, an array of Democrats ranging from liberal Congressional Black Caucus members to conservative Blue Dogs are balking at the Senate's $15 billion jobs measure, prompting party leaders to postpone a vote until next week. In the Senate, a measure to extend unemployment insurance, COBRA health benefits and a handful of other expiring programs for one month is being blocked by one lawmaker -- Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.).

While the House can simply resume its discussions of the jobs bill next week, the Senate blockade is of more pressing concern to Democratic leaders, since the programs in question -- which also include a satellite television bill and federal flood insurance -- all expire Sunday.

Bunning is demanding that Democrats add a provision to the bill that would pay for its various extensions by tapping unspent bailout funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Democrats have tried without success to negotiate a solution with the Kentuckian, who is retiring at the end of this Congress.

Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) said on the chamber floor Friday morning that leaders gave Bunning a chance to offer an amendment containing the TARP language. But "the senator from Kentucky rejected that," Durbin said. "He says he did not want to bring this matter to the floor because he might lose."

Bunning says he has to make a stand to prevent Democrats from recklessly adding to the federal debt, making it unclear how and when the Senate will resolve the dispute.

"I will be here as long as you are here and as long as all of those other Senators are here," Bunning said on the floor Thursday. "I am going to object every time because you will not pay for this and you propose never to pay for it. ... We have a debt of $14-plus trillion. ... We cannot sustain it."

In the House, the Senate-passed jobs measure has attracted the opposition of several Democratic groups.

"We implore leadership to stop calling this 'the jobs bill,'" CBC Chairwoman Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) said earlier this week, adding that "the legislation approved by the U.S. Senate ... is disappointing to say the least."

The complaint of the CBC and other party liberals is that the Senate bill is too small and too focused on tax cuts, giving companies a payroll tax break for hiring new employees. The CBC wants the bill to include funding for job training and public jobs programs, particularly in areas with the highest rates of unemployment.

Separately, the Blue Dogs are concerned that the jobs bill violates the "pay as you go" budget rules recently signed into law by President Obama, since the measure's tax cuts and new spending are not all offset. And a third coterie of Democrats is upset about the highway bill reauthorization language in the bill, complaining that the Senate's language would steer a disproportionate amount of money to a handful of states -- particularly California, Illinois, Louisiana and Washington -- at the expense of others.

While some House Republicans would likely support the jobs bill on final passage -- 13 Senate Republicans backed it -- the combined objections of those Democrats means that party leaders might have trouble getting 218 votes for the rule governing debate for the bill. So rather than pass the bill Thursday as planned, Democrats punted it until next week.

By Ben Pershing  |  February 26, 2010; 9:51 AM ET
Categories:  Capitol Briefing , Economy  
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Our region recently received almost $2.5 million dollars for job training. Now the only problem is that we have no benefits to sustain us while we train. I am four months away from finishing pharmacy tech training through the WIA program. I am four weeks away from losing my unemployment. When Congressman John Carter presented the training funds in Rockdale, TX, I attended the press conference and told the media how grateful I was for my retraining opportunity at the age of 63. Now I feel used. I am ready to quit school, file for early Social Security, and get a job as a door greeter. This is not what I want. I have worked so hard, and I am so frustrated.

Posted by: PPearson2 | February 26, 2010 6:04 PM | Report abuse

All we've been hearing for weeks is that "the system" is supposedly broken, when it is blatantly clear that it is rather the fault of operator error.

Reid and Pelosi should be charged with DWI...

... (Demagoging While Incompetent.)

Posted by: gitarre | February 26, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Bunning is yet another instance of the GOP "not getting it." Average Americans, once again, have to suffer, thanks to Bunning and his fellow Republicans.

Posted by: chi-town | February 26, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Looking at Sen. Bunning voting record, he was front and center when it came to voting for multi-Billion Dollar Contract for Defense Contractors, and Billion Dollars in Tax Breaks for Big OIL Companies. Yet when it comes to voting for unemployment extensions, he is a NO VOTE.

Typical Republican, and the wonder why their Party is such disarray. The Lunatics are running the Asylum.

Posted by: austininc4 | February 26, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

So, let me get this straight. Senator Bunning demands that the jobs bill contain a provision that will allow the bill to be funded by unused TARP money. When the Senate offered him an opportunity to offer his amendment for a vote, he refused.

Ok, now, that makes a lot of sense, doesn't it?

Oh, and I see mharwick has once again posted his "snake oil" post. Can't you guys at least come up with some new ways to badmouth the president?

Posted by: RGee1 | February 26, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Just wonderful! More than 1,000,000 people will loose their unemployment benefits over this weekend. This will directly effect an estimated 2.5 million children, who will do without food or adequate clothing in the short term, at least. No one even knows how many family's will loose their housing, either. It's a gigantic mess. Our squabbling fools, from both parties, have gutted this country, permitting the outsourcing of 44 million jobs, displacing 4.5 million U.S. technology sector workers with Chinese and Indian H1-B and L-1 guest workers, undermining our national security. Now, AIG claims they need another bailout, something like $10 billion. How long do you honestly think these scum sucking swine, posing as our "representatives" will wait before filling that hogs trough? Our government doesn't work for us any more, it's time to get rid of the bums in Washington AND New York, all of them.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | February 26, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

How to cut the budget deficit by $2Trillion (per year) and create 10Mill high paying Jobs?
How to replace the current Deficit with a Surplus in 3 to 5 years?

1st, end the Iraq War. This will save us $1Trillion over the next 10 years, at least.

2nd, end the Afghanistan War. This will save us another $1Trillion over the next 10 years, at least.

3rd, Cut the US Military budget by 30%, this will save us $2Trillion over the next 10 years, at least.
And keep in mind that even after a 30% cut US Military budget will be the largest Military budget
in the World by far, by a factor of 1000% in fact. That is how crazy Gargantuan US Military budget is.
For example close the US basis in Europe, this will SAVE the American Tax payer at least $50Bill
per year. After all Europeans are far richer than Americans, as you
can see from Euro being much more valuable than US Dollar, as you see from them all having Universal
health care, etc. AND Europe does not have any enemies that it cannot easily deal with on her own.

4th, Provide American people with Universal nationalized health care as they have in all European countries, this
will SAVE the American Government and People another $1Trillion per year at least, since in all countries
that have real Universal (single payer) health care system health care is taking about 8% of the GDP whereas
in US where we have for profit health care system health care is taking 18% of GDP

More here:

Posted by: RealNews1 | February 26, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

yet has no problem funding reich wing nut job wars...

Posted by: Geopolitics101 | February 26, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Bunning is a whacko, that's why the GOP shunned him.

He will soon be the first Senator of 2010 to be tarred and feathered by bipartsian groups.

Bunning take that baseball and shove it, and then walk back to KY.


Posted by: COWENS99 | February 26, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Friday, February 26, 2010
The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Friday shows that 23% of the nation's voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as President. Forty-three percent (43%) Strongly Disapprove giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -20. For President Obama, the Approval Index has been lower only once (see trends).
Data for these updates is collected via nightly telephone interviews and reported on a three-day rolling average basis. As a result, just one-third of the interviews for today’s update were collected following the President’s health-care summit. Sunday morning will be the first update based entirely upon interviews conducted after the summit.

The American People are not fooled by this snake oil sales pitch of Obama.

They will explain it to the Democrats in November.

Posted by: mharwick | February 26, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

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