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The Incredible Shrinking Jobs Bill

February 18, 2010 - by Eric Naing

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid [D, NV] is scrambling to find the votes for a pared down jobs bill, which itself was a pared down version of a jobs bill passed last year by House Democrats.

To make a long story short, the House last December passed a $154 billion jobs bill (H.R.2847) prompting the Senate to consider a smaller $80 billion jobs bill, which Sen. Reid further shrank to a $15 billion jobs bill after complaints that the previous bill contained too many concessions to Republicans.

Thrown by the wayside were tens of billions in tax cuts and also extensions to unemployment insurance benefits and COBRA health care subsidies.

But efforts to extend those benefits have not been abandoned. Instead of being part of the jobs bill, Democrats are considering passing the extension as a standalone bill and a Reid spokeswoman says saying unemployment insurance would be extended before the end of the month.

Unfortunately for Democrats, the Hill reports that Reid doesn’t have the votes to pass even the smaller jobs bill right now.

Reid believes the full Democratic caucus will support his smaller jobs bill but that still leaves one more vote to overcome the GOP-imposed 60-vote hurdle in the Senate. Ironically, Politico reports that Reid is reaching out to the one man that denied the Democrats their 60-vote supermajority: Sen. Scott Brown [R, MA].

A Brown spokesman seemed generically encouraged by Reid’s outreach:

Putting Americans back to work is Senator Brown’s main legislative priority. He looks forward to working with members of both political parties to craft bi-partisan legislation that will create jobs, help the state of Massachusetts and get our economy back on track.

We’ll see if Reid’s bill is bipartisan enough for Brown. Democrats hope to move quickly on the bill when the Senate returns from recess next week.

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