Senate Dems to consider $80B jobs bill

The package is subject to change, but a draft summary of proposals under discussion includes small business credits, tens of billions of dollars in infrastructure spending, energy efficiency programs, money to hire police and firefighters and billions to boost lending to small businesses.

A Senate Democratic aide on Monday confirmed the package is under consideration. The proposals will likely be discussed at the Senate Democratic lunch on Tuesday, the aide said.

Senate Democrats have pledged to take up jobs legislation early this year, after the House passed a $174 billion bill late last year. Democrats are looking for ways to bolster the economy, which is suffering amid 10 percent unemployment and record levels of people who have exited the labor market.

Republicans have criticized Democrats for turning their attention away from job-creation legislation. The Obama administration pushed for a $787 billion fiscal stimulus package in early 2009, and the White House and independent economists say that program remains essential in keeping unemployment rates from turning higher.

The White House is looking for ways to boost the economy with fiscal stimulus measures, while simultaneously pursuing efforts to cut the federal deficit and debt.

The new Senate bill, according to the draft summary, would be financed primarily with unspent money from the $700 billion financial bailout program.

The House bill included roughly $50 billion for public works projects and roughly $30 billion to help state and local governments avoid laying off workers. The bill also included additional money for unemployment insurance and to extend COBRA health benefits for the jobless.