Senate Democrats: GOP Has ‘No Excuse’ To Block Senator Reid’s Jobs Bill

Senate Republicans have “no excuse” to block a jobs bill set to come up for a procedural vote Monday because they have supported its key provisions in the past, Democrats say in a statement.

Senate Democrats will seek to overcome a filibuster to move ahead with a $15 billion piece of legislation aimed at improving sagging employment nationwide.

“Despite this strong bipartisan support for each idea in this bill, there are reports that Republicans are holding backroom strategy sessions with lobbyists to figure out how to block its passage,” say Senate Democrats. “With America’s economy showing signs of recovery, this bill will encourage businesses to hire more workers and strengthen the economy. There is no excuse for Republicans who claim to be concerned with bipartisanship, excessive spending and creating jobs to vote against a fully-paid for, bipartisan job creation bill.”

Senate Democrats need the support of at least two Republicans to advance the bill. Senate Democrats lost their filibuster proof 60-vote supermajority with the election of Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), which dropped them to 59 votes. Further, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) is absent due to his diagnosis last week of stomach cancer.

Brown reportedly has announced that he will break with Republicans to support the jobs bill.

The jobs bill includes a payroll tax exemption that would offer employers an exemption from social security payroll taxes for every worker hired in 2010 that has been unemployed for at least 60 days. Senate Democrats note that measure was drafted in part by Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah.

“Over the last few months, Americans have made it very clear that they want two things from Congress: they want us to work on jobs, and they want us to work together,” says Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y), who authored those tax provisions with Hatch. “We have heard the message loud and clear, and that’s why we’ve put together a jobs bill that contains ideas from both sides of the aisle.”

Senate Republicans have also supported measures in the jobs bill, introduced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), designed to help small business, the Democrats’ statement says.

The Reid jobs bill includes a provision allowing small businesses to write off more of their expenditures (known as Section 179 expensing).

“This means America’s small businesses will have more money to hire new workers and grow their business,” the statement says.

Democrats note that Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) has introduced at least four bills directly dealing with small businesses expensing. These bills include the “Small Business Stimulus Act of 2009” which amends “the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to extend enhanced small business expensing and to provide for a five-year net operating loss carryback for losses incurred in 2008 or 2009;” the “Small Business Expensing Permanency Act” of 2009 and 2005; and the “Small Business Expensing Improvement Act of 2003.”

Specifically, Snowe worked with Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) to introduce “legislation to make permanent the enhanced Section 179 expensing limits enacted in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) also has supported the Section 179 provisions, Democrats say.

Republicans also have supported for years the measures in the Reid bill to boost so-called Build America Bonds, the Democrats say. These bonds allow state and local governments to borrow at lower costs to finance more infrastructure projects and put people to work, the Democrats’ statement says.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) last year introduced S. 238, the “Build America Bonds Act of 2009.” The bill sought “to provide $50 billion in new transportation infrastructure funding through bonding to empower states and local governments to complete significant infrastructure projects across all modes of transportation, including roads, bridges, rail and transit systems, ports and inland waterways, and for other purposes.” The legislation attracted two Republican cosponsors: Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Roger Wicker of Mississippi.

Wicker last year released a statement that says that such bonds “will create thousands of jobs.”

The Reid jobs bill would extend existing highway programs which provide states and localities with the certainty they need to make decisions on projects. It allows for billions of dollars more to be invested in infrastructure throughout the nation and saves 1 million jobs, the Democrats say.

Some 18 Republicans last year supported extending the Highway Trust Fund in committee, the Democrats’ statement says.

Publisher of the news site On The Hill, Scott Nance has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.

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