Reid Withdraws Cloture on Jobs Bill; Pared-Back Version Coming
Yesterday evening, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) withdrew his request for a cloture vote to end debate on the pending jobs bill, which continues the emergency extension of unemployment insurance, Medicaid funding for states and Medicare payments for doctors.
The Senate has planned further consideration of amendments and the funding of the bill for today and Thursday. And Reid has scheduled a “budget point of order” vote for today, where senators can agree to increase the deficit for the bill. Presumably, that vote will fail, and Reid will bring forward a pared-back bill.
The $140 billion measure looks increasingly unlikely to pass — leaving thousands losing unemployment benefits every week — due to intransigence from both Democrats and Republicans. Yesterday, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) told reporters that he does not support the deficit spending. “Borrowing and deficit spending at the point of a crisis is one thing, but when you’re in recovery, borrowing and deficit spending is another thing. Borrowing during a recovery is risky because it may slow down the recovery,” he told The Hill. “If everything is an emergency then nothing is.”
Without Nelson and a centrist Republican senator on board — Olympia Snowe (Maine), Scott Brown (Maine) and Susan Collins (Maine) being the likeliest to cross the aisle — Reid does not have the votes to pass the bill. Possible ways Democrats might alter the legislation to bring Republicans around include cutting the “doc fix,” meaning doctors might receive 21 percent less from the government for Medicare patients, and using unused stimulus funds to pay for part of the bill.