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Democrats Split Over Next Step on Jobs Bill

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says Democrats need more time on forming a plan for jobs legislation.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who voted to cut off debate on the president’s jobs package but said he would have voted against the bill itself without changes, said infrastructure should be the priority. Manchin said he doesn’t know of any Republicans or Democrats who don’t need more infrastructure in their states and suggested paying for it with war savings by bringing troops home from Afghanistan.

Democratic aides, however, have suggested the payroll tax cut may be a better vehicle, pitting tax cuts for workers and small businesses against millionaires.

Sen. Carl Levin (Mich.) urged his fellow Democrats not to break up the bill but instead force an old-fashioned filibuster and take the issue to the public with the bully pulpit.

“We should keep the bill together,” he said.

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) also showed little enthusiasm for backing a smaller package.

“I’m very skeptical about most of it,” he said, “even the payroll tax cut. ... I’m not convinced there’s been evidence to show that produces enough jobs.”

But even Lieberman said one idea appeals to him — setting up an infrastructure bank.

Lieberman, like McConnell, said the best plan is to submit ideas to the super committee and hope it can hash out a bipartisan agreement.

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