Democrats Hopeful They Will Have Votes for Reid’s Jobs Bill

Posted February 18, 2010 at 2:07pm

Senate Democrats said Thursday they are still hopeful they will be able to muster enough GOP support Monday to begin work on Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) $15 billion jobs bill, despite Republican complaints of being shut out of the process.

Conference Vice Chairman Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Thursday that no Republicans have formally agreed to vote with Democrats on a cloture motion to begin debate on the bill. But Schumer noted several GOP Senators have indicated that they might be willing to vote in favor, and he said that the individual pieces of the bill all have enjoyed bipartisan support in the past.

“Each of the four provisions of the HIRE Act taken individually has bipartisan support … next week we’re going to look for bipartisan support,” Schumer said during a conference call with reporters Thursday, adding that “I don’t believe anyone has committed to voting for the package, but there are several who have indicated they are interested in it.”

Republicans are planning to argue that Reid abandoned minority party rights when he abandoned a bipartisan bill in favor of his scaled-back jobs measure; Democrats are countering by emphasizing that various provisions in the bill enjoyed bipartisan support in the past, while stressing this will be the first of several bills.

“Congress has to work together to put more Americans back to work. This is the first step, the HIRE Act [Reid’s bill], I want to emphasize that … this is an important step. And it’s a step that in its individual components has strong bipartisan support,” Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) said, noting that once Reid’s bill is passed, Reid is expected to begin work on a second bill that would extend unemployment insurance and COBRA health insurance, among other things.

“We’ve got an opportunity with this bill to respond to the legitimate concerns of everybody in the country … the Majority Leader has worked out a bill that is a first important step, but it can’t be the final step,” Reed said.