For the second time in two weeks, Senate Republicans banded together to block job-creating legislation endorsed by Democrats and the Obama administration.
In a 50-50 vote on Thursday night, senators blocked voting on a component of President Barack Obama's American Jobs Act that would have extended $35 billion for states and localities to hire more teachers and first responders, while preventing current workers from being laid off. The legislation had enormous public support, according to a recent CNN poll, which found 75 percent of Americans support the bill.
For the second time in two weeks, every single Republican in the United States Senate has chosen to obstruct a bill that would create jobs and get our economy going again, Obama said in a statement following the vote. Every American deserves an explanation as to why Republicans refuse to step up to the plate and do what's necessary to create jobs and grow the economy right now.
Two Democrats Vote Against Bill
Two Democrats, Sens. Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Mark Pryor of Arkansas, voted against the measure, as well as Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut.
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While Nelson was one of the two Democrats -- along with Sen. Jon Tester of Montana -- to vote against the president's full job package last week, Pryor actually voted in favor of it.
Lieberman, who caucuses with Democrats, justified voting against the most recent bill by questioning its cost effectiveness. The measure would have been paid for by a 0.5 percent tax increase on individuals earning more than $1 million a year, an increase the GOP opposed.
Another job creating plan was also axed on Thursday night. A Republican-backed proposal aimed to repeal a 3 percent withholding requirement for all government contractors, which businesses say is burdensome. While the measure was actually a part of Obama's original jobs package and has bipartisan support, Democrats and Republicans have disagreed on how to offset the costs of eliminating the withholding.
The bill was blocked by a 57 to 43 vote.
Republicans previously blocked debate on the entire $447 billion jobs plan in the Senate, arguing that any tax increase would impede economic growth and job creation. The White House counters that the plan -- which would also cut payroll taxes, creating a hiring tax credit for veterans and create federal work programs -- will ensure immediate job growth. Analysts predict the package would have added 1.9 million jobs to the U.S. economy in 2012.
The White House has committed to promoting sections of the jobs initiative and aims to force votes on individual components of the plan.