Obama allies push ahead with jobs package
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama’s Democratic allies in the US Senate pressed ahead Monday with plans to vote on a piece of his stalled jobs plan this week, in the face of stiff resistance from Republicans.
“We cannot wait to create jobs. That is why I will bring this bill up for a vote as soon as possible,” Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said of a $35 billion package aimed at helping cash-strapped states.
Reid said the proposal would create or save some 400,000 jobs and enable the states, many struggling with diminished tax revenues due to the sour economy, to avoid layoffs of teachers, police, and emergency workers.
The measure would be paid for with a 0.5-percent surtax on incomes over one million dollars, part of Obama’s reelection-campaign refrain that the country’s wealthiest earners will be asked to pay more in taxes.
Reid’s move came after Obama’s $447 billion plan for battling 9.1 percent unemployment — which weighed on the president’s bid for a second term in the November 2012 election — stalled in the senate.
Democrats circulated a public opinion poll by the Gallup organization showing that 75 percent of Americans favored spending to hire teachers, police officers and firefighters.
Reid said he hoped to bring the measure to a vote this week after lawmakers vote on a spending bill to cover much of the US government’s operations in fiscal year 2012, which began October 1.
“There is no reason we cannot finish the appropriations bills before the end of the week, and have a vote on this jobs bill,” Reid told reporters on a conference call.
And the majority lead signaled a willingness to keep lawmakers at work into a week-long recess due to start Friday.
“I am happy to keep the Senate in session as long as needed to make sure we get a vote on this jobs bill,” he said.