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Senate Blocks Two Parts of Obama’s Jobs Bill

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell criticized a provision of the president’s jobs measure that would have provided $35 billion to save teaching and first responder jobs Thursday, saying a millionaire’s tax to pay for it would hurt small businesses. The Senate rejected the proposal Thursday night.

Two elements of President Barack Obama’s jobs bill failed on procedural votes when Senators tried to move them as individual measures late Thursday. The chamber then plunged ahead on a long series of votes on amendments to a package of three appropriations bills before advancing the measure, setting up a vote on passage for the week of Oct. 31.

A Democratic proposal to provide $35 billion to keep teachers and first responders from being laid off was the first portion of Obama’s $447 billion jobs proposal to receive an individual vote. It went down 50-50, short of the 60 needed for the Senate to take up the measure. Three Members of the Democratic Conference — Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) — joined all Republicans in opposing the procedural motion.

Democrats have argued that the bill would save roughly 300,000 educator jobs and about 100,000 first responder jobs.

“By supporting such jobs, the plan aims to keep communities safe from crime and able to maintain critical emergency response capabilities,” the White House said in a statement of administration policy.

The measure would have been paid for by a 0.5 percent tax on those making more than $1 million a year.

Republicans have argued that the offset would hurt small-business owners, who often report business income and losses on their personal tax returns, as the nation struggles with high unemployment, which was at 9.1 percent in September.

“Everybody in this body knows that the American people want us to do something about the jobs crisis,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said. “What Republicans have been saying is that raising taxes on business owners isn’t the way to do it.”

The Senate also defeated a Republican proposal to take up legislation that would repeal a law requiring that federal, state and local governments withhold 3 percent of many payments to government contractors starting in 2013. The repeal effort is also part of Obama’s jobs bill.

The withholding law has been promoted as a way to narrow the tax gap and make delinquent companies pay their share of taxes, but opponents insist the provision would hurt businesses. The bill to repeal the law failed 57-43 on a procedural vote, winning fewer than the 60 votes needed for it to be taken up by the Senate. Ten Democrats joined all Republicans in voting in favor of taking up the bill.

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