WASHINGTON – Republicans in the Senate on Thursday dealt President Obama the third in a string of defeats on his stimulus-style jobs agenda, blocking a $60 billion measure to upgrade roads and rail lines.

Supporters of the measure said it would have created tens of thousands of jobs and lifted the economy. But Republicans opposed it for its tax surcharge on the wealthy and spending totals they said were too high.

The 51-49 vote fell well short of the 60 votes required under Senate procedures to start work on the bill.

GOP Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine joined all of their colleagues in unanimous opposition to the bill, but they split on a GOP measure. Snowe was the only Republican to vote against the GOP bill.

Snowe criticized both measures for being what she called “my way or the highway votes.” She also criticized the Democratic jobs bill as a “fiscal sham” which spends $60 billion over two years but is paid for “with a tax increase spread out over 10 years.”

The GOP plan would have extended highway and transit spending programs and paid for the spending with a $40 billion cut in unspent funding for other domestic programs. It also included two pieces of legislation Collins has co-authored, one delaying regulations for industrial boiler emissions and another imposing a one-year moratorium on “significant” new federal rules going into effect.

“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,” Collins said

Democrats continue to press ideas from Obama’s jobs package in what Republicans say is nothing more than an attempt to gain a political edge by invoking the mantra of jobs but doing little to seek compromise.