WASHINGTON — Local governments could line up billions of dollars in new construction projects under the latest in a series of election-year jobs bills Democrats are pushing in Congress as unemployment hovers near 10 percent.

A bill combining $13.2 billion in interest subsidies for local construction bonds with $3.6 billion in tax cuts for small businesses cleared a key procedural vote in the House on Tuesday, 233 to 187. The House is scheduled to vote on passage Wednesday.

The legislation, which would then go to the Senate, would provide states $2.5 billion for temporary welfare payments to needy families through September 2011.

The bill is part of the Democrats’ strategy to pass a series of jobs measures as congressional elections approach in November. Last week, President Obama signed a bill that offers tax breaks to companies that hire unemployed workers.

“Now is not the time to sit back and relax but to continue to give this economy a shot in the arm that it needs in so many areas,” said Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Calif.

Republicans argue that the tax cuts in the bill are too small and the spending too inefficient to make any significant dent in joblessness.

The Democrats “desperately want to be seen by the people as doing something on jobs — anything,” said Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, R-Fla. But, he added, “This bill will do nothing to create jobs just because the majority has slapped ‘jobs’ onto the title of the bill.”

The largest provision in the bill would expand the Buy America Bonds program, which subsidizes interest costs paid by local governments when they borrow for construction projects.


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