Senate leadership to push forward on unlikely quest to pass next piece of Obama jobs bill

The $60 billion slice of the already rejected $447 billion spending package would provide funds and loans for infrastructure projects like highways, roads and a new GPS system for the nation’s airports.  

Several moderate Republicans, along with most Democrats, support these investments, but the legislation’s near-certain defeat is due to the included pay-for mechanism that would raise taxes on those with an annual income greater than $1 million. That exact mechanism was in part responsible for both the failure of the overall jobs package and the first fragment of the bill earlier this month. 

Democratic leadership will continue to push the legislation despite its inability to clear either chamber, in part, because Obama is continuing to use the jobs bill as a central talking point as he gears up for the 2012 reelection campaign. 

On Saturday, Obama delivered a radio address entitled "We Can't Wait to Strengthen the Economy and Create Jobs," in which he continued to harangue Congress for failure to take action on jobs. 

"The truth is, we can no longer wait for Congress to do its job," said Obama. 

With much serious legislative work remaining before the end of the fiscal year in the Senate, some Republicans have already begun to argue that Democratic leadership ought to practice better stewardship over valuable floor time.

Before a stopgap funding measure expires on Nov. 18, the upper chamber must complete work on the nine remaining appropriations bills, lump them together in an omnibus or pass another continuing resolution to float the government until it clears the spending bills. All of those actions are expected to draw controversy and would result in time-consuming debate. 

If Democrats do opt to take up consideration of the next $60 billion jobs bill on Tuesday, Republicans, despite frustration, will likely play along by trying to tack on amendments that either gut the controversial pay-for mechanism or they will seize the opportunity to offer unrelated amendments for a vote. 

So far the closest the Senate has come to passing an element of the jobs bill came on a vote on a piece pulled out by Republicans that that would have eliminated the 3 percent withholding tax on federal contracts. That narrowly failed 57-43.

The full $447 billion jobs bill fell flat earlier in the month in a bipartisan vote, 50-48.