Senate Democrats ready 'jobs agenda' for next week

Senate Democrats plan to unveil a two-part "jobs agenda" next week that offers relief to businesses and unemployed workers in both the short and long terms, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Thursday.

That package of legislation could include a measure co-authored by Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) and Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah) that extends payroll tax breaks to companies that hire unemployed workers, Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) later told reporters on Thursday.

Another short-term reform could extend unemployment insurance for a second time this year, as workers tend to spend that money "immediately," Durbin added. Longer term legislation could include infrastructure reforms, the senator noted, though he quickly added, "we haven't quite settled on what the long-term reforms might be."

"We're going to have a jobs agenda; we're going to do more than one thing. It will look at a broad view of what we need to do with jobs, and it will look at a more narrow view, and I think it will give Republicans an opportunity to work with us," Reid said.

Senate Democrats have struggled for weeks now to introduce a jobs bill to the floor, mostly because out of concern that any jobs-based stimulus would not garner the 60 votes it would likely need to pass.

The delay has ultimately frustrated House lawmakers, who passed their jobs bill back in December. When the president called attention to that fact during his State of the Union address on Wednesday night, House Democrats leaped from their seats to applaud their own efforts.

But the upcoming 2010 election has put serious political pressure on Senate Democrats to work faster to bring a compromise jobs bill to the floor. Reid signaled those reforms were closer than ever, and he charged Republicans on Thursday to support the bill or risk fielding the wrath of voters.

"It is going to be so glaringly clear to the American people if we don't get the Republican votes to support this," Reid said, adding he hopes that's "not the case."

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