February 18th, 2010
07:25 PM ET
13 years ago

What's up with the jobs bill?

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/02/18/art.reid.file.gi.jpg caption="Sen. Harry Reid yanked his support for a bipartisan jobs proposal that a number of Republicans said they would support."](CNN) A new CNN poll shows 84 percent of Americans believe Congress is not doing enough to tackle the nation's jobs problem.

This won't come as welcome news to them. When the Senate returns next week lawmakers will vote on a dramatically pared down jobs bill. Even in its diminished form – and despite enormous public pressure for Washington to act – that jobs bill may not pass.
Democrats said they are looking for the 60th vote to get it through the chamber.

What happened?

Last Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, yanked his support for a bipartisan jobs proposal that a number of Republicans said they would support.

There were a variety reasons Reid made this decision. But multiple Democratic sources told CNN a key factor was a meeting Wednesday night between Reid and Senate Minority Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky. These sources said McConnell would not agree to bring the bipartisan jobs bill to the floor quickly and Reid became concerned the Republican leader would drag out the process and the bill would ultimately fail.

"The caucus was tired of one or two Republicans supporting something so they can say they are working with Democrats, while McConnell and the other Republicans dump all over us," one Democratic source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said of Democratic senators.
That's a reference to the extended, but fruitless negotiations over health care reform.

It is apparent McConnell and Reid had very different timetables for the jobs bill. Reid wanted it passed before the Senate went on break last week. McConnell told CNN last week he thought it would "take a few weeks" and he added that "we're not quite ready to go forward."

So is this a case of Republicans publicly calling for a jobs bill, but privately working to derail it?
Absolutely not said those close to McConnell.

Neither Reid's nor McConnell's offices would offer comment about the private conversation.

Republican Senate aides insist Democrats did not need McConnell’s support to pass the bill, because other Republicans including Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Orrin Hatch of Utah were publicly supporting the bill and GOP Whip John Kyl said that while did didn’t support all parts of the bill, “it contains elements that are important to all of the people in the Senate.” Speaking at a news conference, Kyl also said, “I assume, within fairly short order, it will be adopted.”

"Surely he knew there was significant Republican support," one Republican Senate aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said of Reid.

Does that sound like the kind of gridlock that has made Americans so angry at Congress?
There's more.

Reid has decided to dramatically scale back the bill by putting together a new version with four jobs growth measures for the Monday vote. Democrats are gambling that will be a political win for them, forcing Republicans to decide whether it's politically wise to vote against a popular job growth initiative.

Republicans are furious and have accused Reid of undermining progress on bipartisanship. None has committed to vote for the bill. Hatch, who co-sponsored one of the items in the scaled back jobs bill, plans to vote against it.

The Utah senator accused Reid of displaying "a tremendous arrogance of power" by yanking the bipartisan version of the bill.

In a conference call with reporters, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, said Democratic leaders are speaking to a number of Republicans who have expressed interest in possibly supporting the new jobs measure on Monday. Reid's office confirmed that Sen. Scott Brown, who won last month's special election in Massachusetts to serve the remaining three years of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy's term, is one of them.

Filed under: Congress • Jobs
soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. Gary

    Reed is probably right. Make the Republicans vote against a jobs bill.

    February 18, 2010 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  2. Mike in MN

    It would be a shame to not go with the larger bipartisan bill. Have to reserve judgment on Reids comments until I hear what McConnell has to say. If it turns out McConnell was playing games, shame on him.
    The original bipartisan bill sounds like it would do a lot more than Reids scaled down bill and more the more help to create jobs the better.
    I don't trust Reid either, his judgment is usually bad.
    The partisan games of both parties never end.

    February 18, 2010 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  3. Ryan

    I'm telling you now – Unless there's a lobbyist pushing and paying a politician to do ANYTHING that requires effort... don't expect much.

    Do you work extra for free at your job?

    These idiots are bought and paid for... especially Republicans!

    February 18, 2010 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  4. Louise in NC

    Earlier this week it was reported that the bipartisian bill was so full of earmarksa that had nothing to do with jobs that Reid pared it down.

    February 18, 2010 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  5. NO...SAY IT ISN'T SO.

    The Republicans are going to drag their feet on anything Obama. It is a done deal. They have said they will ruin his presidency and they mean to try with every thing they have to do it.
    It's to bad the Democrats are so stupid and lazy they won't even try to call the Republicans bluff. I am so disgusted with the Democrat party, the party I voted for and I am ashamed of them for being so spineless when it comes to making the Republicans put up or shut up.


    February 18, 2010 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  6. USN

    It's SIMPLE . STOP taking our money then give a tiny portion back and call it a JOBS BILL . Lower taxes on everyone then get out of the way . One need only look at history to see.

    February 18, 2010 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  7. duckunder

    just the Repubs saying give me what I want and I'll still vote against it. Both parties are pathetic. Vote out all incumbents.

    February 18, 2010 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  8. worriedmom

    Reid is making excuses. What is with this Congress? Start remembering who you work for and what we want. I will be so glad when Reid is voted out!

    February 18, 2010 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  9. Jenn, Philadelphia

    This was Reid's way of blaming the republicans again and winning reelection by looking tough. Even if McConnell wanted to take more time to debate the bill, what's wrong with that? This rushing through of legislation is cause for concern. Why do the democrats want to rush through every bill? What's in them they don't want the American public to know about? If the stimulus package was so good it needed to be rushed through, why are they now proposing a jobs bill?

    February 18, 2010 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  10. JP

    Come on Harry– the ELEPHANTS made you look like a "fool with your pants on the ground".....you really need to sell shoes or something....this ain't your thing!!

    February 18, 2010 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  11. jimmm

    Republicans drag something out??? I don't believe it

    February 18, 2010 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  12. ED FL

    What a relief America will have when Reid and Pelosi get booted out of office and/or the leadership positions. These two losers are a disgrace as politicians [ and that isn't easy] They have in one year done more damage to the country than Bush did in eight years. Get hot time is running out.As a life long Democrat party voter I will not waste another vote for a democrat here in Florida as long as either of the two above leaders are in a leadership position. Leaders usually do good and move forward these two losers have screwed over the US population like no other.

    February 18, 2010 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  13. mr mister

    Reid and Pelosi are the two largest problems facing America today. Get rid of them and you'll see change for the better.

    February 18, 2010 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  14. Bpin

    Why do we need a jobs bill? BHO says we are in great shape. The stimulus has created 3 million jobs and we are on target to have a 1% unemployment rate by the end of the year. BHO is doing such a fantastic and wonderful job that US citizens feel he has been overwhelmed and should not even think about continuing at the end of his term.

    All you leftnuts that want to complain constantly about how the right will not cooperate on anything? What about your God Reid? Does he seem to be cooperating here? BHO has a hard enough time getting his own house in order. He has no time to think about the other side. Things are wonderful though. The US has never been in this shape.

    February 18, 2010 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  15. File under "Sarcasm"

    He said, she said, political gamesmanship on both sides of the aisle.

    And the end result is the Democrats are bringing forward a "jobs" bill built around tax incentives for employee hiring that were tried and deemed a failure under President Jimmy Carter. Nobody is going to hire an employee costing $50k or more a year with benefits because the government gives them a $2-5k tax credit. They're going to do it because it generate $70-100k in sales that can pay for the new employee, pay state and federal taxes, and provide some profits.

    February 18, 2010 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  16. Mr Joshua

    Let's see. Which party has the Majority in the House and Senate? You can blame Republicans all you wish.. No matter. The people see this for what it is and that is the reason the Republicans are going to win in November in shocking Numbers. Don't believe me? Look at CNN's own poll numbers. Obama and the Democrats had a wonderful chance and they blew it across the board. BIG TIME!

    February 18, 2010 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
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