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Thursday November 03, 2011 | 04:27 PM

GOP Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine joined all other Republicans, as well as two Democrats, in rejecting another component Thursday of President Obama’s jobs package.

The procedural motion to advance the Democrats’ infrastructure jobs bill needed 60 votes to proceed to a final vote on the $60 billion infrastructure spending measure, funded with a surcharge on the income tax of people earning more than $1 million. But it fell short, 51-49.

But Snowe was the only Republican to vote against a Republican alternative measure, which also was rejected by the Senate, 47-53. Just one Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, voted in favor of a procedural motion to proceed to a final vote on the GOP alternative, which also needed 60 votes to advance.

The GOP alternative continued funding transportation and other infrastructure projects at current levels, but also ended a highway beautification program and delayed or eliminated various federal regulations, including a number of environmental rules.

It was criticized by environmental groups, which charged that the legislation rolled back key federal regulations protecting public health and safety and did not spur job creation. Republicans said that reducing federal regulations would help businesses create jobs by lowering their costs.

Collins voted yes on the GOP alternative, which included two pieces of legislation bill she has co-authored, one delaying regulations for industrial boiler emissions and another imposing a one-year moratorium on “significant” new rules going into effect if judged to have an adverse impact on jobs and the economy, according to her office. The definition of “significant” includes rules costing more than $100 million per year overall for businesses to achieve compliance.

Comment is being sought from Collins.

(Updated as of 6:10 p.m. : Collins said in a statement that she voted for the GOP bill, without saying why she voted against the Democratic bill, because, "At a time when millions of Americans are out of work and manufacturers are struggling to retain jobs, it simply does not make sense for Washington to swamp businesses in red tape and new regulations. Doing so would only create further uncertainty, making it impossible for them to plan, grow and add jobs. The fact is, Democrats and Republicans have to come together, sit down, and negotiate a solution to our economic troubles that can garner enough bipartisan support to move us forward,” Collins said.)

Snowe criticized both measures for being what she called “my way or the highway votes.”

She said in a statement after the vote that there are bipartisan efforts underway in the Senate to spend more money on job-creating infrastructure projects. She cited a pending $109 billion surface transportation bill being worked on in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee “that will put money in the pipeline for necessary road and bridge work over the next two years and also create desperately needed jobs.”

Snowe criticized the Democratic jobs bill she voted against as a “fiscal sham” which spends $60 billion over two years but is paid for “with a tax increase spread out over 10 years.”


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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
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