Saturday, November 5, 2011

Republicans Say No to Infrastructure Bill...Again

Democrats have been trying to move Obama’s American Jobs Act forward plank by plank, without much success, since the Senate blocked the package in its entirety last month.
The Senate shot down another piece of President Obama’s $447 billion jobs bill Thursday, as a stalemated Congress goes through the motions of attempting legislation to spur economic growth largely as a mechanism to allow each party to blame the other for the failure to act.
The chamber failed to advance a measure to spend $50 billion on highway, rail, transit and airport improvements and another $10 billion as seed money for an infrastructure bank designed to spark private investment in construction. The vote was 51 to 49 in favor, but the measure needed 60 votes to proceed to a full debate.
All 47 Senate Republicans joined Sens. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) in opposing the Obama infrastructure measure, which would have been funded with a 0.7 percent surtax on those making more than a million dollars a year.
“It makes no sense when you consider that this bill was made up of the same kinds of common-sense proposals that many of these Senators have fought for in the past. It was fully paid for,” Obama said in a statement issued by the White House.
The Senate had already blocked another element of the plan that would have provided $35 billion in aid to states to hire teachers and first responders. Democrats have indicated they will ask the Senate to vote on other pieces of the plan, including extending a payroll tax holiday for workers and benefits for the unemployed, and offering new tax incentives to businesses to hire veterans and the long-term unemployed.
Also Thursday, Democrats joined to block a separate Republican proposal to extend the government’s highway spending authority for the next two years and roll back some environmental regulations. A procedural motion to advance the measure was rejected 53 to 47. The current highway spending authority will lapse in February.
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