Reid said last week that he plans to hold a vote when the Senate returns from recess next week on the portion of the jobs bill that would provide $60 billion to upgrade the nation's crumbling infrastructure. The bill would be paid for with a 0.7 percent tax on millionaires — a detail that is likely to ensure opposition from most, if not all, Republicans.
Word of Senate action on the infrastructure bill came after the Senate last week defeated the bill to provide $35 billion to keep teachers and first responders from being laid off. The legislation failed 50-50 — including three Democrats opposing the bill — short of the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster. The measure would have been paid for by a 0.5 percent tax on those making more than $1 million a year.
Senate Republicans, who opposed the millionaire tax offset, offered the 3 percent withholding measure as an alternative jobs bill provision to the Democrats' teachers bill, one that they argued was more bipartisan. A $30 billion rescission from fiscal 2012 discretionary spending would offset the cost of the GOP proposal.
The Senate GOP bill to repeal the withholding law failed, 57-43, on a procedural vote, winning fewer than the 60 votes needed for it to be taken up by the Senate. But it scored a larger vote tally than the Democratic measure and had bipartisan support: 10 Democrats joined all Republicans in voting to consider the bill.
And in a Statement of Administration Policy, the White House threatened to veto the Senate GOP measure.
The House measure, introduced by Rep. Wally Herger (R-Calif.) in February, stands a good chance of passing. The bill, which would cost about $11 billion in lost revenue, has about 269 co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle.
The original intent of the 3 percent withholding mandate was to go after scofflaw government contractors who avoid paying taxes, but repeal supporters say it would actually impose significant financial burdens on the public and private sectors.
But most House Democrats will likely oppose the proposed offset, which would close a loophole in the health care law that Republicans argue allows some middle-class Americans to qualify for Medicaid.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.