Democrats Still Seeking Way Forward on Jobs Bill

Democrats from the “president on down say jobs are their No. 1 priority, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid expects to announce details of a bill this week,” POLITICO reports.

But a squabble among “Senate Democrats is complicating early efforts to bring a bill to the floor.”

Sens. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota and Dick Durbin of Illinois have been working intensely on a jobs bill for more than a month, talking with relevant committee leaders and other members and dispatching aides to dozens of other meetings in the hopes of crafting a bill that could get through the Senate quickly.

And when they walked into a meeting in the office of Reid (D-Nev.) on Jan. 22, they thought they were about to cross the finish line — the Dorgan-Durbin plan would be blessed by the small group of senators in the room, presented to the full Democratic Caucus on Jan. 28 and then taken straight to the floor for a vote.

But Montana Sen. Max Baucus had other ideas.

The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, where the health care bill was debated for months last year, surprised the senators gathered in Reid’s office by suggesting he wanted a chance to mark up portions of the bill under his committee’s jurisdiction before it went to the floor, according to several people who attended the meeting.

What might be included in the package:

For now, Democrats say they are starting to coalesce around a hodgepodge of ideas, including one by Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) to create a Social Security tax break for employers who hire unemployed workers; “Build America” bonds for infrastructure; extensions of COBRA and unemployment insurance and money for energy-efficient projects. And Democrats may add versions of a proposal, outlined by President Barack Obama, to give tax credits to small businesses for hiring and pay increases.

The legislation will “carry a price tag far less than $80 billion, several sources said Friday.”  Many of those funds may be paid by returned money from the “Troubled Asset Relief Program — a proposal fiercely opposed by Republicans who say returned TARP funds should pay down the debt.”

(credit image – getty)

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