Dems rebuff Brown, vote down amendment despite bipartisan plea

Democrats voted Thursday to defeat the first piece of legislation offered by Sen. Scott Brown, despite a plea from the newly elected lawmaker for bipartisanship.

The Senate voted 56 to 44 to derail an amendment sponsored by Brown (R-Mass.) that would have allocated $80 billion in unobligated stimulus funds to pay for a tax cut for 130 million people in the workforce.

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The amendment failed when senators voted to enforce a procedural objection Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) raised against the measure. A majority voted to sustain the motion.

In his first Senate floor speech, Brown asked Democrats to support his proposal, reminding them he was the first Republican to vote for a $15 billion jobs package offered by Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

Brown and four other Republicans voted for the Reid jobs bill, giving Senate Democrats their biggest bipartisan legislative victory of the year.

Brown asked his colleagues to return the favor.

“Let me remind colleagues in this chamber that bipartisanship is a two-way street,” Brown said.

Brown noted that Democrats “appreciated my effort to reach across the aisle last week and help pass the jobs bill that the majority leader was pushing to put people back to work.”

“And I took some heat for it,” Brown added.

Brown repeated his plea immediately before the vote but only two Democrats responded: Sens. John Kerry (Mass.) and Blanche Lincoln (Ark.) voted for the amendment.

Brown’s amendment would have cut workers’ payroll taxes by about $100 per month, up to $500 per person and $1,000 per worker.

“Some people in Washington may not think that $100 or $500 or $1,000 is a lot of money but I can tell you I know the value of a dollar,” Brown said. “The people in my state know that’s real money.”

The proposal would not have added to the federal deficit because it would have been fully offset by unspent stimulus funds.

Brown offered his amendment to a package of tax extenders the Senate is considering this week.