Durbin: Senate to move to jobs in January

Majority Whip Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinGun proposal picks up GOP support Durbin: I had 'nothing to do' with Curbelo snub Republicans jockey for position on immigration MORE (D-Ill.) said Wednesday that a jobs bill would be considered on “the first of the year.”

Durbin also voiced confidence that the Senate would approve a healthcare bill before lawmakers leave for the holiday break despite Republican procedural obstacles.

When asked at a news conference whether lawmakers would work through Christmas, Durbin said, “Don't you dare say that. We'll finish this.”

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House Democrats Wednesday evening are expected to approve a $75 billion jobs bill with increased funding for infrastructure, fiscal aid for states and local governments and extensions of unemployment benefits and COBRA healthcare aid for the jobless.

Durbin, who is crafting the Senate jobs bill with Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), said that he liked the House's version. "I think they're on the right track," he said.

Senate Democrats have focused on ways to increase small business hiring, such as increased Small Business Association loans and tax credits.

During a Senate Democratic Policy Committee hearing Wednesday on job creation measures, an Obama administration official echoed the need for a new jobs package that included small business aid in addition to infrastructure aid and energy efficiency investments.

"Job growth is essential to that vision of shared prosperity in all times, but it demands greater urgency and emphasis as we seek to emerge from a profound recession and financial crisis," said Gene Sperling, counselor to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.

The Senate has been unable to move quickly on a jobs bill because of the drawn-out debate on healthcare, something that has frustrated House Democrats.

“This is truly a tale of two chambers,” said Rep. Xavier Becerra (Calif.), the Democratic House Caucus vice chairman.