Two versions of President Obama’s jobs bill were prevented from reaching the floor after both Democrats and Republicans failed to get the 60 votes necessary to force their respective bills through the Senate on Thursday.
The bill presented by Democrats would have made available $35 billion for states and local governments to hire more teachers, firefighters and police officers and prevent layoffs of those currently employed. The funding would have been gained through a so-called “Buffet Tax” – a 0.5% tax increase for Americans earning over $1 million annually.
The Republican bill proposed a repeal of a 3% withholding requirement for all government contractors. While the measure has supporters on both sides of the aisle, Democrats and Republicans could not agree on how to offset the costs of eliminating the withholding requirement.
Senator Barbara Boxer of California, a Democrat, criticized the Republicans in a statement, saying “They have turned their backs on our children and the safety of our communities by blocking a bill that would put 400,000 teachers, police officers and firefighters back to work.”
President Obama also released a statement, lambasting Republican senators. “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.”
Republicans have previously blocked debate on the entire $447 billion jobs bill, leading to the latest piecemeal strategy.
In a statement after the vote, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, a Republican, criticized the Democrats for blocking a vote on the 3% withholding requirement. “I’ve said a number of times in recent days that the president doesn’t want Congress to pass his jobs bill; he wants to blame Republicans and use it on the campaign trail.”