WASHINGTON – A bipartisan jobs bill cleared a GOP filibuster on Monday with critical momentum provided by the Senate’s newest Republican, Scott Brown of Massachusetts.

The 62-30 tally to advance the $15 billion bill to a final vote on Wednesday gives President Obama and Capitol Hill Democrats a much-needed victory — even though the measure is likely to have only a modest effect on hiring.

Brown and four other Republicans, including Maine Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, broke with GOP leaders to advance the measure. Most other Republicans opposed the bill because Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada stripped out provisions they had sought and wouldn’t allow them to try to restore them.

The bill features four provisions that enjoy sweeping bipartisan support, including a measure exempting businesses hiring the unemployed from Social Security payroll taxes through December and giving them another $1,000 credit if new workers stay on the job a full year.

Though employers seldom make hiring decisions based on tax breaks, economist Mark Zandi said the measure could potentially create 250,000 new private-sector jobs. That’s less than 4 percent of the 8.4 million jobs lost in the recession.

Joining Brown, Snowe and Collins were two retiring GOP senators, Kit Bond of Missouri and George Voinovich of Ohio. Democrat Ben Nelson of Nebraska voted ”nay” and Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., was absent.


Reid’s bill is far smaller than Obama’s $862 billion economic stimulus bill enacted a year ago. It’s also significantly smaller than a bipartisan bill unveiled this month by two senior senators.

The legislation would renew highway programs through December and deposit $20 billion in the highway trust fund.

”I came to Washington to be an independent voice, to put politics aside and to do everything in my power to help create jobs for Massachusetts families,” said Brown, whose election last month gave Republicans the 41st vote that could sustain GOP filibusters. ”This Senate jobs bill is not perfect . . . but I voted for it because it contains measures that will help put people back to work.”

Voinovich said he voted for the bill because the highway spending will create jobs and help states pay for important projects.

”If we don’t do this we’re going to miss the construction season, and this is an area where you absolutely create jobs,” he said.

The White House said Monday that the administration strongly supports the bill but that it wants more economic recovery measures. Among Obama’s jobs proposals are a $250 payment to Social Security recipients, $25 billion to help cash-strapped states and $30 billion in Wall Street bailout money redirected to help community banks lend to small businesses.


”It’s a good first step,” Obama senior adviser David Axelrod said. ”There’s no doubt we need to do more.”

Republicans and some Democrats were unhappy that Reid abruptly dumped about $70 billion worth of tax breaks for businesses and individuals, help for the unemployed and additional Medicare payments to doctors from a compromise measure unveiled earlier this month by Sens. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.

In addition to the hiring incentives and highway funding, the bill would extend a tax break for small businesses buying new equipment and expand an initiative that helps state and local governments finance infrastructure projects.


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