Senate GOP to force vote on Obama jobs bill

Senate Republicans will force a vote on President Obama's jobs bill, putting vulnerable Democrats in a tough position.

"The president wants a vote and we're going to be sure to give it to him," Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) said Tuesday.

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House Republicans have declared the president’s bill dead on arrival in their chamber, and said they will move forward only with the parts of the legislation they support.

But Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will force the upper chamber to vote on the president’s jobs package in its entirety, knowing the Democrats will have difficulty rounding up support.

McConnell said he would call for an up-or-down vote on the legislation as soon as the Senate reconvenes from its Tuesday afternoon lunch recess.

He made it clear he is doing it to embarrass Democrats, adding he does not support the measure.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Tuesday the president's jobs proposal will likely need to be changed in order to win enough votes for passage. And though Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) promised the Senate would take up the jobs legislation this month, he didn't say in what form — either the whole package or in pieces.

Reid said Tuesday he is looking at other ways to pay for the jobs bill.

"There are a wide range of things we're looking at," he told reporters. "We're resolving that as we speak."

A Senate Democratic source said Reid will move the president's jobs plan in its entirety but with a different plan to pay for it, which would likely make it easier to get the support of Democrats considered vulnerable in the coming elections.

Some observers had speculated Democrats would move the jobs plan in bite-sized pieces.

Reid noted that the president has always said his plan to pay for the $447 billion jobs package were just suggestions — not demands.

One Senate Democrat facing a tough reelection campaign said he will not vote for a motion to proceed on Obama's proposal unless substantial changes are made to it. Sen. Ben Nelson (Neb.) said he cannot support the Senate even taking up legislation that would raise hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes to pay for a payroll tax cut and infrastructure investment.
 
“No, no, no,” Nelson said when asked if he would roll the dice by allowing the bill to come to the Senate floor in hopes it could be amended.
 
“With the current offsets that are essentially tax increases? No,” Nelson said. “This is a time to be cutting. The cutting stops when the taxes increase.”

Durbin, in a conference call with reporters, said Democrats are still working to round up votes for the $447 billion plan, but noted the final proposal probably won’t be a carbon copy of the one Obama proposed in September. The president on Monday asked Congress to hold a vote on his bill by the end of October.

It wouldn't be the first time Republicans forced a Democratic bill to the Senate floor —  McConnell forced a vote on Obama’s budget blueprint earlier this year. It failed to garner a single vote, giving Republicans ammunition for their argument that the president had failed to put forth a credible, detailed budget plan.


—This story was last updated at 2:49 p.m.

Daniel Strauss contributed.