Last week, Senate Republicans locked arms and killed the American Jobs Act. This week, GOP senators did the exact same thing and killed a bill to protect hundreds of thousands of jobs for teachers, police officers, and firefighters.
But when the White House and Democratic leaders vowed to keep fighting for jobs, even if that meant forcing votes on individual components of the larger jobs agenda, they weren’t kidding.
Rebuffed twice in their attempts to push through President Obama’s jobs proposals, Senate Democrats are ready to try again.
The Senate will hold a vote the first week of November on the $60 billion infrastructure portion of Obama’s Jobs Act, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (R-Nev.) announced Friday.
The bill contains $50 billion for direct spending on transportation projects and $10 billion in seed money to start a National Infrastructure Bank. The spending would be paid for by a 0.7 percent tax on annual income above $1 million.
Will Republicans once again refuse to even allow a vote on the legislation? Probably. But infrastructure investments are another element of the Democratic jobs plan that enjoys broad national support, and which many GOP officials have conceded publicly creates jobs.
If Republicans are serious about giving the economy a boost — and I realize there’s some skepticism surrounding the assumption — there’s really no excuse for GOP senators to simply reject this measure out of hand. We have unemployed workers eager to help rebuild American infrastructure; we have a massive number of projects (roads, bridges, ports, runways, rail) that need repair; we have public demand for both jobs and improved infrastructure; and we have a bill that’s fully paid for through a popular financing plan.
Hell, the idea for the infrastructure bank was co-sponsored by Republican lawmakers.
Are there any GOP senators willing to do the right thing on this? We’ll find out for sure next week, but the answer still appears to be no.
As it turns out, reporters seem annoyed that Senate Democrats continue to fight for jobs, pressing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on why he’d bother with an infrastructure bill that Republicans disapprove of.
Maybe because it shouldn’t be up to the Senate minority to veto an idea before a debate? Maybe because this is a bill Republicans should gladly endorse? Maybe because there’s value in getting GOP lawmakers on record on an important and popular bill?
All told, the U.S. Department of Transportation projects that this $50 billion proposal would create roughly 800,000 jobs. They’re jobs, apparently, Republicans don’t think the nation needs.