This vote was on whether to allow to go forward a bill that would provide payroll tax exemptions for employers that hire new workers, extend the authority to spend money out of the federal trust fund that fuels highway spending, and extend an infrastructure bonding program known as Build America Bonds, as well as other items.
The bill was considered the first piece of Democrats’ “jobs agenda” for 2010, considerably trimmed from the effort Democrats were planning before Scott Brown, R-Mass., was elected to the Senate in a surprise victory, wresting Democrats’ filibuster-proof majority from them. The Senate had already voted to bring debate on the bill to a close (see vote 49), but even after the Senate has agreed to end debate, the Senate’s rules require 30 more hours of debate before taking a vote on passage. Many times senators will unanimously decide to waive this “postcloture” debate period, but not always.
Judd Gregg, R-N.H., had attempted to defeat the bill with a parliamentary maneuver, saying the bill violated the Senate’s budgetary rules. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., made a motion that the rules be waived in this case, which is what this vote was on.
“This isn’t so much a jobs bill as it is a debt bill. It has debt, debt, and debt,” Gregg said.
“There is a lot of talk around here about what is the systemic risk to this economy. The systemic risk is this Congress, which continues to spend money it doesn’t have, send the bill on to our kids at a rate they can’t afford to pay off. As a result, their lifestyle will actually have to be reduced, their quality of life, their standard of living will go down because they will be paying for all this debt we are putting on their backs today,” Gregg said.
Schumer said the “world is topsy-turvy,” with Republicans “opposing a tax cut to businesses, large and small, that hire people.”
“This is exactly what we should do. We don’t want to be saying to workers we can’t help them find a job. There are shades of Herbert Hoover in what my colleague is saying, and I don’t think many of my colleagues on either side of the aisle would support that,” Schumer said. “We have found a way to hire workers, help businesses with tax cuts to hire them, and keep it budget neutral. Yet there is still opposition. When will it end?”
By a vote of 63-34, the Senate voted to waive the rules and allow the bill to proceed. All but one Democrat present voted to waive the rules. Of Republicans present, 6 voted to waive the rules and 33 voted against. The end result is that the rules were waived, the parliamentary maneuver to kill the bill failed, and the Senate moved toward final passage of a bill intended to create jobs through tax breaks for small businesses who hire new employees and other items.