Sen. Max Baucus of Montana talks with reporters after voting for President Barack Obama's American Jobs Act. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
The Senate voted to begin debate on President Obama’s $447 billion jobs bill Tuesday evening, but as predicted, Majority Leader Harry Reid was unable to gather the 60 votes required to move it forward. The final vote tally was 50 to 48.
“Americans have demanded Congress pass legislation to create jobs and pass [the jobs bill] now. And they support our plan to fund job creation by asking people who make more than $1 million a year to contribute their fair share by a margin of three to one,” Reid said on the Senate floor before the vote took place. “Today we’ll see whether Republicans have gotten the message, or if they still put the wants of millionaires and billionaires ahead of the needs of seniors and middle-class families.”
For weeks Obama and other Democrats have repeatedly accused Republicans of trying to obstruct the legislation, but the reality is that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle did not support it, including all 47 Republican senators and two Democrats. One Democratic senator did not vote due to illness.
“Tonight’s vote is by no means the end of this fight. Independent economists have said that the American Jobs Act would grow the economy and lead to nearly two million jobs, which is why the majority of the American people support these bipartisan, common-sense proposals. And we will now work with Senator Reid to make sure that the individual proposals in this jobs bill get a vote as soon as possible,” said Obama after the results came in. “In the coming days, Members of Congress will have to take a stand on whether they believe we should put teachers, construction workers, police officers and firefighters back on the job. They’ll get a vote on whether they believe we should cut taxes for small business owners and middle-class Americans, or whether we should protect tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires.“
And although White House officials have long insisted that the legislation is not an a la carte menu from which lawmakers can pick and choose which parts to consider and pass, Obama before the vote appeared to acknowledge that that is the most likely scenario.
“If they don’t pass the whole package, we’re going to break it up into different parts,” the president said during a jobs-related event in Pittsburgh Tuesday afternoon.
When he travels to Michigan later this week and other key states in coming weeks to promote the jobs package, he’ll have to change his mantra from “Pass this bill!” to “Pass [this part] of the bill!”