The Senate approved a job creation bill Wednesday after 13 Republicans agreed to vote for the measure, which includes tax breaks for businesses that hire or retain employees.

The 70-28 vote indicated the possibility for bipartisan cooperation on politically popular issues. The $15 billion measure will now go to the House, which approved a much larger $154 billion jobs bill in December. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., decided to scale back the Senate legislation, leaving out extensions of expiring business tax breaks, unemployment insurance and COBRA subsidies from an $85 billion bipartisan package introduced earlier this month by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Charles Grassley, R-Iowa. Reid plans to introduce another bill next week that will include some of those provisions, along with aid to states to help them pay for health care costs, to be followed by further bills.

“We have a jobs agenda, not a jobs bill,” said Reid, according to The New York Times. “We’re going to have more votes and create more jobs.”

Newly elected Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., was one of the Republican senators who voted for the bill. “This jobs bill is far from perfect, and ideally would include deeper and broader tax cuts,” he said in a statement, adding that he might vote against the bill if it returned to the Senate full of pork, waste, fraud and abuse.

The bill approved by the Senate, known as the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act, offers an exemption from Social Security payroll taxes for every worker hired in 2010 who has been unemployed for at least 60 days. There would also be an additional $1,000 income tax credit for every new employee retained for 52 weeks that could be claimed on an employer’s 2011 income tax return. The bill also retains a provision extending the 2008 and 2009 Section 179 expensing thresholds, allowing taxpayers to elect to write off up to $250,000 of certain capital expenditures for equipment (subject to a phase-out once the expenditures exceed $800,000) in 2010, in lieu of depreciating those costs over time.

Other provisions would extend the Highway Trust Fund to allow states and localities to invest more in infrastructure through the rest of the year, and expand the Build America Bonds program to allow state and local governments to borrow at lower costs to finance more infrastructure projects through a federal government subsidy. 

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