Updated: 8:56 p.m.
A modified version of President Barack Obama’s jobs bill was essentially defeated in the Senate today, forcing the majority Democrats and the administration to find another way forward.
Sixty votes were needed for the legislation to clear a key procedural motion and continue toward a straight up-or-down vote. But the bill stalled with Democratic Sens. Ben Nelson (Neb.) and Jon Tester (Mont.) joining all 46 voting Republicans to oppose the motion. Sen. Tom Coburn (Okla.), who was recovering from surgery to treat prostate cancer, was the only Republican not to vote.
The vote was held open late in the evening at the request of Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), who intended to support the bill and was on her way to Capitol Hill from an event in Boston. She voted “yes” after 8:30 p.m., bringing the final vote to 50-49 — not enough to change the outcome. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) ultimately voted “no” to allow him to take up the vote again.
Senate Democratic Conference Vice Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.) said that Democratic leaders knew Republicans would block the bill.
“We have to go to the people,” Schumer said, adding that his party is not done pushing for the bill. “We are going to keep at it and keep at it and keep at it.”
Obama echoed Schumer’s determination in a statement later in the evening, saying that the administration would work with Reid to secure votes on individual proposals from the bill. “Tonight’s vote is by no means the end of this fight,” Obama said.
At least three Members of the Democratic Conference who voted to move the legislation forward, Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Jim Webb (D-Va.), said they would have opposed its final passage absent significant adjustments.
Tester, meanwhile, called the bill “an expensive, temporary fix to a problem that needs a big, long-term solution,” while Nelson said he opposed the procedural vote because the measure “represents billions of dollars in new spending and more taxes.”
Reid modified Obama’s original bill to include a 5.6 percent surtax on individuals earning $1 million or more annually. The Nevada Democrat was hoping to win over Members of his caucus who opposed the president’s plan to tax individuals and families at lower income levels, but the rewrite failed to satisfy.
Just before the evening vote, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) tried yet again to obtain a vote on Obama’s original jobs bill, but Reid blocked him. The Majority Leader said he would be willing to grant McConnell’s request if he would agree to move directly to debate on his modified bill, but the Kentucky Republican objected.
Steven T. Dennis and Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.