Senate Democrats pulled the plug Thursday on a so-called “bipartisan” jobs bill packed with pork and favors to lobbyists and replaced it with a leaner bill with just one goal — putting Americans back to work.
The stripped-down proposal came in response to critics who said the original bill didn’t really create jobs but did generate favors to and donations from special interests.
Republicans, outraged that their special interests would be ignored, yelped loudly, complaining that Democrats reneged on a deal.
Democrats responded by all but daring Republicans to vote against the new bill.
The new bill, offered up by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, includes several popular provisions to boost job creation, including tax breaks — negotiated with Republicans — for companies that hire unemployed workers and for small businesses that purchase new equipment. The bill also renews highway programs and helps states and local governments finance large infrastructure projects.
Reid scraped the original plan, bloated with pork barrel projects for lawmakers and favors for lobbyists, after Senate Democrats balked. Republicans like Chuck Grassley pushed Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus to produce a bill containing the extra provisions.
President Barack Obama supported the original bill along with conservative Republicans in the Senate, a compromise that — on the surface — looked like a rare bipartisan package in a Congress sharply divided by partisan fights. To buy support, however, the package ballooned into a 361-page grab bag of pork and political payoffs.