This was a vote on a motion to end debate (known as a “cloture motion”) on a motion to bring up (known as a “motion to proceed”) legislation estimated to create 2 million American jobs through infrastructure programs (which rebuild roads, bridges, schools, etc.) and funding for local school districts to prevent layoffs of public school teachers . Cloture motions require a 60-vote majority for passage.
The bill that Senate Democrats were trying to bring up, known as the “American Jobs Act,” was drafted by the Obama administration in response to the unemployment rate, which had held steady at roughly 9% for months. To pay for the cost of programs funded by the bill, the measure would impose a new 5% tax on incomes above $1 million.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) argued: “What better way to get our struggling economy back on track than to build the 21st-century transportation network our economy demands, while creating jobs in the construction industry, which, as I mentioned, has been one of the hardest hit industries….With our economy struggling and 14 million Americans still out of work, Minnesotans want Congress to put the politics aside and come together to move our economy forward. It is time to step forward and show some leadership, and it is time for us to work together to show the American people that Washington isn't broken--that, instead, we are willing to put aside politics to do what we were elected to do, to do what is right for America.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) said: “The president has made his position clear. Those of us who will vote in support of the president's plan have made our positions clear. But the position on the other side of the aisle is becoming increasingly clear as well, and it comes down to two things: First, the Republicans will not countenance, approve or even consider $1 more in taxes for the wealthiest people in America. For them, that is unacceptable. It is better to do nothing than to impose $1 more in taxes on people making over $1 million a year. They have said that consistently, at every level of the Republican Party.”
Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) opposed the bill: “Today's vote is conclusive proof that Democrats' sole proposal is to keep doing what has not worked--along with a massive tax hike we know will not create jobs. So it is hard to overstate the importance of this vote….Democrats have designed this bill to fail--they have designed their own bill to fail--in the hopes that anyone who votes against it will look bad for opposing a bill they mistakenly refer to as a `jobs bill.'…It does not seem to matter that this bill will not pass or that even if it did pass, American businesses would be stuck with a permanent tax hike. Forget about all of that. What matters most to the Democrats who control the Senate, according to the stories I have been reading, is that they have an issue to run on for next year. This whole exercise, by their own admission, is a charade that is meant to give Democrats a political edge in an election that is 13 months away.”
In the Republicans’ weekly address (which is recorded and posted on Youtube), Sen. John Thune (R-SD) said: “It’s [the American Jobs Act] nothing but a rehash of the same failed ideas he’s [President Obama has] already tried, combined with a huge tax increase. This is a cynical political ploy that’s designed not to create jobs for struggling Americans, but to save the president’s own job.”
The vote on the motion to bring up the jobs bill was 50-49. 50 Democrats voted “yea.” All 46 Republicans present and 3 Democrats voted “nay.” While a majority of senators voted “yea,” a 60-vote majority is required for passage of a motion to end debate. As a result, the Senate effectively rejected legislation estimated to create 2 million American jobs through infrastructure and funding for local school districts to prevent layoffs of public school teachers. Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), however, said he intended to bring up specific provisions in the bill in an attempt to pass them on a piecemeal basis.