News / USA

Jobs Bills Die in US Senate

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada (file photo)
Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada (file photo)
Michael Bowman

Another plank of President Barack Obama’s job creation plan has been defeated in the U.S. Senate, blocked by Republicans who objected to a modest tax boost to pay for increased infrastructure spending.  Democrats returned the favor by voting down a competing Republican proposal that would have channeled unspent federal funds into public construction projects.

Lawmakers of both parties agree that the nation’s crumbling infrastructure needs repair and expansion, and that far too many Americans are out of work.  

The solution is obvious, according to Democratic Senator Charles Schumer of New York. “All across the country, there are roads, bridges and sewer systems in need of serious repair.  And in each of these places there are thousands of middle class families desperately looking for work.  By voting to pass the Rebuild America Jobs Act, the Senate can get thousands of Americans off the unemployment line and back into the workforce,” Schumer said.

Borrowing from a jobs plan President Obama unveiled two months ago, Democrats proposed spending $60 billion on infrastructure projects across the nation, paid for by imposing a tax surcharge on annual incomes exceeding $1 million.

Republicans decried the plan as a tax-and-spend scheme that will harm private enterprise.  Senator John Thune of South Dakota says there is a better way.

“To make it less costly, less difficult, easier for our small businesses to create jobs.  If you look at what the Democrat agenda is, it is a doubling down on the policies that have already failed.  It is raising taxes on the people who create jobs in this country,” Thune said.

Republicans voted to block debate on the Democratic proposal.  Moments later, Democrats did the same to a Republican alternative that contained no new tax provisions.

Frustration over partisan gridlock led the Senate’s top Democrat, Majority Leader Harry Reid, to accuse Republicans of economic sabotage for political gain.

“Their goal is to do everything they can to drag down this economy, in hopes that President Obama will be defeated [next year],” Reid said.

Republicans fired back, accusing Democrats of pushing politically-unviable legislation to draw partisan differences ahead of next year’s general elections. :

“Democrats have deliberately designed this bill to fail.  So the truth is, Democrats are more interested in building a campaign message than in rebuilding roads and bridges,” said Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The infrastructure program is but the latest component of President Obama’s jobs plan to be defeated by Republican lawmakers.  Last month, Republicans also blocked an effort to prevent layoffs of teachers and emergency responders. Democratic Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa said Republicans seem to have a one-word vocabulary.

“If the word ‘no’ were removed from the English language, our Republican friends would be rendered speechless.  Well, let me state the obvious. The word ‘no’ will not put millions of American back to work.  The word ‘no’ will not allow us to undertake a robust program to modernize our transportation system,” Harkin said.

But Republicans accuse Democrats of ignoring jobs legislation passed by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.  

“The House has passed more than 15 bills that are currently awaiting a vote in the Democrat-controlled Senate. Unfortunately, they [Democratic senators] are just allowing these bills to gather dust, and I do not think that is acceptable,” said House Speaker John Boehner.

A recent report by the World Economic Forum ranked U.S. infrastructure as 16th-best in the world, lagging behind nearly all its advanced industrialized competitors.  Meanwhile, U.S. unemployment continues to hover around 9 percent.

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid