Reid wants to pare down bill, pass job provisions

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced Feb. 11 that the Senate would move quickly to pass four popular provisions aimed at creating jobs, according to The Washington Post.

The provisions come from a broader package of business incentives and unemployment aid negotiated by Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa). Reid says he would break the broader bill into two parts so the jobs-related incentives could be put to a vote Feb. 22 and the remaining measures would move through Congress later as a separate bill.

"We feel the American people need a message," Reid says. "The message they need is that we're doing something about jobs."

The fast-tracked jobs provisions have bipartisan support, but Republicans were releasing statements praising the broader bill when Reid announced his strategy, catching Republicans off-guard. It is unclear whether Reid's announcement will cost any GOP votes for the bills, but Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who helped negotiate the broader bill, was "deeply disappointed that the majority leader had abandoned a genuine bipartisan compromise only hours after it was unveiled," says Hatch's spokeswoman, Antonia Ferrier.

Reid reportedly made the decision because Democrats were arguing about the broader bill, which was receiving criticism that it included too many special-interest perks.

The streamlined jobs package would exempt companies from paying Social Security taxes for the remainder of 2010 on every new worker who had been unemployed for at least 60 days; provide new transportation infrastructure spending; offer expanded investment breaks for small businesses; and provide added subsidies for Build America Bonds, a financing program created under the 2009 stimulus bill to help local governments pay for public projects.

Remaining provisions that would move as a bill separate from the jobs-related bill include renewal of several expiring business tax credits, as well as extending the USA Patriot Act, federal flood insurance program and a measure governing satellite television signals.

Date : 2/15/2010