This vote was on passing a bill that would provide payroll tax exemptions for employers that hire new workers, extend the authority to spend money out of the federal trust fund that fuels highway spending, and extend an infrastructure bonding program known as Build America Bonds, as well as other items.
“The Senate has an opportunity today to take another step toward restoring job growth and opportunity for American workers. Others have discussed the importance of this bill’s provisions to help put Americans back to work, and I agree: This bill marks important progress in lowering unacceptable levels of unemployment,” said Carl Levin, D-Mich.
Most of the debate on this bill was spent debating the relative merits of more spending and how effective it is at stimulating jobs. Republicans made several attempts at amending the bill to spend less money, or to pay for its spending by redirecting currently unspent money from the 2009 stimulus law, unsuccessfully.
And Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, complained that Democrats sabotaged a bipartisan compromise on a jobs bill at the last minute, instead moving forward with this one.
“Let me be clear, there is no doubt in my mind and in the mind of many of my colleagues that passing a jobs bill is crucial,” Hatch said. “This is why it was so shocking, then, that on Thursday, February 11, the Senate majority leader suddenly announced that he was scrapping the compromised proposal only hours after it was unveiled, proceeding instead with a scaled-down bill. In minutes, the majority leader pulled the rug out from not only Republicans but also those Democrats who had been working for weeks on a bipartisan solution.”
The bill was considered the first piece of Democrats’ “jobs agenda” for 2010, considerably trimmed from the effort Democrats were planning before Scott Brown, R-Mass., was elected to the Senate in a surprise victory, wresting Democrats’ filibuster-proof majority from them.
By a vote of 68-29, the Senate passed the bill. All but one Democrat present voted for the bill. Of Republicans present, 11 voted for the bill and 28 voted against it. The end result is that the Senate passed a bill that attempts to spur job creation through tax breaks for businesses that hire new employees, infrastructure spending and other items. Because the House had already passed the bill, it next went to President Obama.