UPDATE: Six, not eight, GOP senators voted against allowing a jobs bill on the floor for a vote Monday; then, they turned around and voted for it today. They are:
Lamar Alexander (R-TN); Thad Cochran (R-MS); James Inhofe; (R-OK);George LeMieux (R-FL); Lisa Murkowski (R-AK);Roger Wicker (R-MS) (h/t TPM)
A rare — and very odd — moment of bi-partisan cooperation just broke out on the floor of the U.S. Senate. Thirteen Republicans joined 57 Democrats to pass a jobs bill that would provide tax cuts to businesses if they hire workers.
Here’s the odd thing: Just yesterday, eight of those Republicans voted AGAINST allowing the measure to even come up for a vote. They detested it so much yesterday they wouldn’t agree to end a filibuster. What happened to get them to switch?
(Some right-wingers are still unhappy about any bi-partisanship. See Kathleen Parker’s excellent column on the hate-fest that Scott Brown has endured.)
The Senate easily passed a $15 billion jobs bill on Wednesday morning amid hope that the measure could provide a blueprint for other items on President Obama’s agenda.
The measure passed 70 to 28, with 13 Republicans joining 57 Democrats in support of the package. One Democrat, Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, voted against it.
“We’ve had so much gridlock,” said Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), co-author of a key portion of the bill. Now, he said, “finally we have something” to show the public.
The legislation is the first element of what enate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) has said will be a multipart “jobs agenda.” The measure includes a new program that would give companies a break from paying Social Security taxes on new employees for the remainder of 2010. It also carries a one-year extension of the Highway Trust Fund, an expansion of the Build America Bonds program and a provision to allow companies to write off equipment purchases.
The next stop is the House, where Democratic leaders are weighing whether to pass the Senate version or go to conference to reconcile it with the $154 billion jobs bill the House passed in December.
Wednesday’s passage of the Senate bill was made possible by five GOP defections on a procedural vote Monday from two retiring senators from the economically depressed Midwest and three New Englanders seeking to maintain a foothold in a region where Republican officeholders have grown scarce in recent election cycles.
Freshman Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) grabbed the headlines, deciding on the first big vote of his new career to side with Democrats and the two GOP moderates from Maine, Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia J. Snowe.
Just days after Brown was greeted rapturously by attendees at the Conservative Political Action Conference, his vote on the jobs measure made Reid “very happy,” the majority leader said. Reaction on the right was less complimentary.
One leader of the “tea party” movement has taken to calling the freshman “Benedict Brown,” and disillusioned conservatives filled Brown’s Facebook page with accusations that he was a “Judas” and a “sellout.”