Undetered by snowstorm, Reid plans to unveil Senate jobs bill
Updated 4:12 p.m.
By Ben Pershing
The impending snowstorm that shuttered federal agencies and the House hasn't closed down the Senate, where Democrats are nearing completion of what they hope will be a bipartisan job-creation bill.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said that he planned to introduce a jobs measure Tuesday and hopes to have a vote on the package later this week even though many Senate chairmen have canceled hearings and the House has already scuttled its schedule until after the President's Day recess. Reid had hoped to unveil a bill last week but was sidetracked by snow, and the Majority Leader said Tuesday afternoon that the chamber might go out of session Wednesday because of the storm and then return Thursday.
"I don't know of any sticking points at this stage," Reid told reporters. "I think we are in pretty good shape."
Asked whether the bill would get bipartisan backing, Reid said, "As of last night we had some good support."
Republican Sens. Orrin Hatch (Utah) and Chuck Grassley (Iowa) have been heavily involved in the negotiations, though no member of the GOP has been so publicly optimistic as Reid was Tuesday. After a bipartisan leadership meeting at the White House Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said there was "a chance" Republicans would get behind the jobs measure, depending on the details.
Reid has not unveiled the final package yet, but it is expected to cost roughly $85 billion and will include a payroll tax break for companies that hire new employees, extensions of a variety of expiring tax breaks and help for small businesses seeking loans. The measure will also carry three-month extensions of unemployment insurance and COBRA health benefits, as well as a "fix" to prevent a cut in Medicare payments to physicians. The bill will reauthorize the highway trust fund for one year and provide money for Build America Bonds.
Some in the GOP have been wary of the highway bill funding, and Republicans have also been waiting to see what else Democrats attach to the jobs measure. The package is expected to carry extensions of a handful of bills set to expire at the end of February, including the USA Patriot Act and a bill governing satellite television signals. The measure would extend the federal flood insurance program, and Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D) and Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran (R) would also get agriculture disaster assistance funding.
Reid said the jobs bill would not address the estate tax. Grassley and other Republicans have been seeking a commitment from Democrats that the Senate would soon take up the issue. The current estate tax rate is zero but is scheduled to return to pre-Bush administration levels in 2011 unless Congress acts.
Some, but not all, of the cost of the jobs measure would be offset by closing various tax loopholes. The bill would not utilize unspent funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, a "pay-for" House Democrats used for the bill they passed in December but which Republicans strongly oppose.
February 9, 2010; 2:57 PM ET
Categories: 44 The Obama Presidency , Capitol Briefing
Save & Share: Previous: "Miss me yet?" Bush billboard mystery solved
Next: Obama makes surprise appearance at White House briefing (Video)
Posted by: scrivener50 | February 9, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.