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With Moderate Republicans Refusing to Play Ball, Jobs Bill Appears Likely to Fail

Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid filed for cloture on the extenders package, also known as the jobs bill or H.R. 4213. He intends to call a vote to end debate and move forward on the bill either today or tomorrow. But Senate aides are very concerned that Republican Sens. Olympia Snowe (Maine), Susan Collins (Maine) and Scott Brown (Mass.) — necessary to bring the count to 60 — are proving intransigent, despite Democrats whittling the bill down numerous times.

“[We need constituents] to call Snowe, Collins and Brown now to help us tip the scales,” a Senate aide told me. “That’s the last thing that I believe that could be done to change the tide with the GOP. Otherwise, we’re out of options. We’ve reached an impasse.

“We’re not going to get the 60 votes we need to pass this bill. The only thing that could help change the tide would be an overwhelming number of calls to Brown, Snowe and Collins’ offices demanding that they step up for their constituents and vote for this bill. That’s it. That’s all we have left.”

The aide did not believe that Democrats would force Republicans to filibuster the bill.

Republicans continue to insist that the package conform to paygo rules — meaning more cuts that Democrats are not willing to make. The legislation includes a number of income-generating measures, including a new tax on oil. But the cost will be around $30 billion — down from an initial $140 billion — and it will add that sum to the deficit.

The bill would be a lifeline for the poor and unemployed, as well as cash-strapped states. If it does not pass, 1.2 million Americans will have lost extended jobless benefits this month — and more every week thereafter. A massive cut to Medicaid means some states will slash services, and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that the cuts might lead to 900,000 layoffs in 2011. The cuts will additionally leave states in the lurch: Their budgets are due at the end of the month, and they were counting on the federal funds.

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