Republicans on Thursday defeated Democrats’ showcase election-year jobs bill, including an extension of weekly unemployment benefits for more than a million people out of work more than six months.
The 57-41 vote fell three votes short of the 60 required to crack a GOP filibuster, delivering a major blow to President Barack Obama and Democrats facing big losses of House and Senate seats in the fall election.
The rejected bill also would have provided $16 billion in new aid to states, preserving the jobs of thousands of state and local government workers and providing what White House officials called an insurance policy against a double-dip recession. It also included dozens of tax breaks sought by business lobbyists, and tax increases on domestically produced oil and on investment-fund managers.
The demise of the bill means that unemployment benefits will phase out for more than 200,000 people a week. Governors who had been counting on federal aid will now have to consider a fresh round of budget cuts, tax hikes and layoffs of state workers.
“This is a bill that would remedy serious challenges that American families face as a result of this Great Recession,” said Max Baucus, D-Mont., the chief author of the bill. “This is a bill that works to build a stronger economy. This is a bill to put Americans back to work.”
The bill has been sharply pared back after weeks of negotiations with GOP moderates Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine. The most recent version, unveiled Wednesday night, contained new cuts to food stamps and pared back the state aid provision to allow Democrats to claim the measure was fully paid for except for the unemployment insurance extension.
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