By Alexander Bolton - 10/06/11 05:29 PM EDT
Senate Republicans say there will be a vote Thursday afternoon on President Obama’s controversial jobs package, which would likely go down in flames if lawmakers have the chance to consider it.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) relented Thursday and said he would allow Republicans to offer the president’s jobs package as an amendment on the floor.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) executed a similar maneuver earlier this year when he forced a vote on Obama’s fiscal 2012 budget blueprint. It failed on a vote of 97-0.
Reid told McConnell on Thursday that he would allow a similar vote on the jobs package.
The Democratic leader argued the GOP amendment is not really the president’s jobs bill because Senate Democrats have a new version that is more likely to gain broad support.
“The problem we had is that the Republican leader offered the president's jobs bill in a form that is not the president's jobs bill. Now, I’ve told him this morning, you want to vote on that, fine. We'll do that. We'll have a vote on that today. It can either be a motion to suspend the rules or it can be a regular amendment,” Reid said on the floor.
McConnell wants to force a vote on the earlier version of the package, which would limit tax deductions for families that earn more than $250,000 and eliminate tax breaks for oil and gas companies.
Many Senate Democrats have expressed opposition to these revenue-raising provisions.
Sens. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.) oppose the oil and gas tax changes. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) opposes the proposal to limit deductions. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said earlier this week that the president's original proposal would not pass.
Republicans had tried to force a vote on the package Tuesday, but Reid blocked them with a procedural maneuver.
His floor statement on Thursday, however, left Republican strategists licking their chops.
“There will be a Senate vote today on the stimulus/tax hike bill the president sent to Congress, the bill he demanded Congress vote on,” McConnell’s spokesman Don Stewart tweeted triumphantly.
Stewart estimated the vote would happen before 5:30 p.m.
A Democratic leadership aide, however, said Republicans are getting ahead of themselves.
The aide said Democrats will only allow a vote on a motion to suspend the rules to take up the president’s jobs package. That would require the support of 67 lawmakers, a far-fetched possibility. If the motion to suspend fails, the Senate would not consider the president’s plan.
A GOP leadership aide said Democrats would make a “180-degree turnaround” on their offer if they denied Republicans the chance to vote on the jobs plan.