By Walter Alarkon - 03/17/10 02:47 PM EDT
The bill passed on a 68-29 vote, with nearly all Democrats and 11 Republicans backing it.
"We have found a way to hire workers, help businesses that hire them with tax cuts and keep it budget-neutral," said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who crafted the hiring tax break with Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).
The bill is fully paid for by increasing enforcement of foreign account taxes, delaying the implementation of a tax break on worldwide interest and raising the corporate estimate tax on large corporations.
The bill also includes new low-cost federal bonds for state and local government infrastructure programs, an extension of the highway trust fund for federal transportation projects and an extension of a tax break allowing companies to write off losses due to depreciating equipment.
Obama has said he will sign the bill.
Before passing the bill, Democrats and a handful of centrist Republicans voted to waive a budget point of order against the bill raised by Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.). Gregg said the bill would raise spending levels above those set by the budget resolution last year.
"It spends more than their own budget called for," Gregg said of the bill.
The one Democrat to vote against the bill was Sen. Ben Nelson (Neb.). The 11 Senate Republicans who voted for it were Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Kit Bond (Mo.), Scott Brown (Mass.), Richard Burr (N.C.), Thad Cochran (Miss.), Susan Collins (Maine), Jim Inhofe (Okla.), George LeMieux (Fla.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Olympia Snowe (Maine) and George Voinovich (Ohio).
Senate Democrats have said this is the first of a string of measures aimed at cutting the 9.7 percent unemployment rate.
The next item Senate Democrats will take up is measures to increase lending for small businesses, Schumer said.
Other measures Senate Democrats said they're considering are tax incentives to have property owners improve the energy efficiency of homes and buildings, an advanced manufacturing tax credit and a 6-year surface transportation reauthorization bill for road, rail and highway projects.
-- This article was updated at 11:44 a.m.