This was a vote on a resolution outlining the terms for debate on a bill intended to aid job creation through tax credits and highway construction funding.
The job creation bill contained $20 billion for highway construction and mass transit funding. In addition, it would provide payroll tax breaks to businesses that hire unemployed workers. Specifically, businesses that hire such workers would be exempt from payroll taxes through December 31, 2010, and would receive a $1,000 tax credit if the newly hired workers stay on for at least one year.
The Senate passed the bill by a vote of 70-28 on February 24. The House, however, amended the bill to offset its cost by raising additional tax revenue. As amended by the House, the bill would crack down on people who try to hide offshore earnings from the Internal Revenue Service to avoid paying taxes.. Before the president can sign the measure into law, the Senate would need to pass the amended version of the bill.
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) argued the legislation would be critical to reviving the American economy: "It's kind of ironic that our friend from California got up and talked about why we don't do what Ronald Reagan and President Kennedy would have done. We've done that. We've cut taxes. We cut taxes several times before that. In fact, his facts are completely wrong when he says that American taxes on companies that create jobs are the second-highest in the world except for Japan. That is the effective tax rate. That's what's on the books. That's not what they pay. When we get through all of the gimmicks, and loopholes, and exemptions, those tax rates for American businesses are actually the second-lowest in the world. Effective tax rates and what people actually pay, that's not the problem. The problem is we need to get the economy unfrozen. We need to have people stop playing political games. We need to invest in infrastructure to rebuild and to renew America, and we need to do so in a way that doesn't have us talking past one another and playing games with jobs across America that are at risk if we don't pass this bill."
Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-OH) criticized the Democratic leadership for barring amendments to the bill, and argued the legislation would do little to create jobs: "This is another gag rule. It is a closed rule, and we are going to talk about, not only the bad underlying bill, but the bad rule. This isn't a jobs bill. I have great admiration for the gentlewoman from California, the manager on the majority side of this rule, but my admiration has grown today because she has been able during this debate to call this a ``jobs bill'' with a straight face. She has not giggled once. But she should have. This isn't a jobs bill. This is a no jobs bill. This is a faux jobs bill. This is a snow jobs bill. Mr. Doggett, with whom I rarely agree, I think was right on the money. The centerpiece of this bill is $13 billion for a tax credit--$13 billion out of $15 billion. The way this things works is, if you're a small business person in this country, struggling, and if you hire somebody at $30,000 a year, do you know what? You don't have to pay the payroll taxes, 6.2 percent payroll taxes, which is about $1,500. I had three chambers back in Ohio--chambers of commerce, small business people, Republicans, Democrats, Independents. I said, You know what? Here's the deal. How many of you are going to hire anybody? Nobody. Nobody raised their hands. This is not going to create one job, and it's the centerpiece of the bill."
The House agreed to the resolution by a vote of 212-209. 212 Democrats voted "yea." All 171 Republicans present and 38 Democrats voted "nay." As a result, the House proceed to floor debate on legislation intended to aid job creation through tax credits for new employees and highway construction funding.