The Senate failed to advance an infrastructure jobs bill Thursday that would have been paid for through higher taxes on millionaires.
The bill, known as the Rebuild America Jobs Act, failed to reach the 60-vote threshold needed to advance amid mostly Republican opposition, by a vote of 51-49. Two members of the Democratic caucus—Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and Ben Nelson, D-Neb., joined Republicans to block the bill.
The bill was originally part of President Obama’s American Jobs Act and would have provided $50 billion to repair and rebuild roads, bridges, railroads and airports, along with $10 billion for a national infrastructure bank. The bill would have imposed a 0.7 percent surtax on modified adjusted gross income in excess of $1 million for both single filers and married couples filing jointly, for taxable years beginning after Dec.31, 2012.
The larger American Jobs Act was also blocked earlier last month (see Senate Fails to Advance Obama’s Jobs Bill). Another attempt to pass just a portion of it, the Teachers and First Responders Back to Work Act, which promised to create and protect nearly 400,000 education jobs and prevent the layoff of thousands of police officers and firefighters, was also filibustered when it came up for a vote last month.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., blasted Republicans for blocking another jobs bill.
“Republicans have once again chosen to protect millionaires and billionaires instead of creating jobs for the middle class,” he said in a statement. “This legislation would have put hundreds of thousands of Americans back to work, including 3,300 Nevadans, rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, and modernizing our air traffic control system. It would have been fully paid for by asking the richest Americans to pay a fraction of one percent more on income above $1 million a year. But Republicans chose to hew to the pledge they made to Grover Norquist instead of listening to the vast majority of Americans—Republicans, Democrats, and Independents alike—who support this plan. Republicans are out of touch with even the majority of Republican voters, who support asking millionaires to pay their fair share.”
Republicans, however, contended that the legislation was intended to score political points rather than create jobs.
“According to the [Congressional Budget Office], the Democrats’ proposal will do little for the economy and putting people back to work in the short term because the money will be spent gradually,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ken. “According to the CBO, less than one-tenth of the funds in the Democrat proposal will be spent next year. And roughly 40 percent won’t be spent until after 2015. This hardly matches the President’s calls for doing something ‘right away.’ Second, it costs another $57 billion we don’t have. Third, they want to pay for this temporary spending bill with a permanent tax hike on job creators. And fourth, they already know that Republicans and yes, some Democrats, don’t think we should be taxing job creators, particularly at a time when 14 million Americans are looking for a job—and that we’ll vote against any proposal that does so. In other words, the Democrats have deliberately designed this bill to fail. So the truth is, Democrats are more interested in building a campaign message than in rebuilding roads and bridges. And frankly, the American people deserve a lot better than that.”
He advocated a Republican alternative to the bill, introduced by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, that would extend the current highway and transportation bill for another two years. However, that bill was blocked by Democrats with a 47-53 vote.
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