The Senate on Thursday blocked another portion of President Obama’s jobs plan, a $60 billion bill to fund infrastructure projects around the country.
This is the second piece of the president’s proposal to be voted on and rejected in the Senate. The bill would have invested $50 billion dollars to fund immediate highway, transit, rail and aviation projects. And it would have put $10 billion toward a national infrastructure bank.
The Senate voted 51-49 in favor of a procedural motion to bring up the component of President Obama’s jobs bill, nine short of the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster. Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Sen. Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent who caucuses with Democrats, joined Republicans in opposition to the bill.
Republicans lined up unanimously against the measure which would have been paid for by a .7 percent surtax on millionaires.
In a second, 47-53 party-lines vote, the Senate blocked a Republican alternative that would have cost $12 billion paid for by $18 billion in spending cuts.
The day began in the Senate with a tense back-and-forth on the Senate floor between Majority Leader Reid and Minority Leader McConnell over which party was more serious about creating jobs.
Calling each other “friend” on multiple occasions, McConnell accused Democrats of putting forward legislation designed to fail. Reid said Republicans were solely focused on obstructing Democrats and defeating President Obama.
“The Democrats have deliberately designed this bill to fail, deliberately designed the bill to fail. So the truth is, Democrats are more interested in building a campaign message than in rebuilding roads and bridges,” McConnell said.
Reid replied, “My friend the Republican leader, who I care a great deal about personally, is absolutely wrong.”
He added, “My friend, the Republican Leader, comes before this body today and says we should do our campaign speeches next year when the world knows that my friend has said his number-one priority in this Congress is to defeat President Obama.”
Reid accused McConnell of being more focused on defeating the president and taking over as Majority Leader than on the economy.
On the other side of the Capitol, House speaker John Boehner criticized the Senate for not taking up what Republicans are calling the “Forgetten 15” - jobs bills that have been passed by House Republicans.
“We’ve got these 15 bills that continue to sit in the United States Senate. All of the steps that we can take right now to remove some of the barriers to job creation. Listen, I think it’s time to find common ground. Many of these bills have broad, bipartisan support and there’s no reason for the Senate not to take them up,” Boehner said.
Democrats and Republicans sparred all day in the Senate over who had the better infrastructure package.
McConnell said the $12billion Republican plan “doesn’t add to the deficit, doesn’t raise taxes, empowers the states to make decisions on the local level, and is designed to gain bipartisan support”
Reid argued the Democrats proposal would put “hundreds of thousands” of construction workers pack to work.