Senate approves $15 billion jobs bill

By Tami Luhby, senior writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The Senate on Wednesday approved a $15 billion job-creation bill that would give businesses tax breaks for hiring the unemployed and states more money for infrastructure projects.

The four-prong bill would:

  • Exempt employers from Social Security payroll taxes on new hires who were unemployed;
  • Fund highway and transit programs through 2010;
  • Extend a tax break for business that spend money on capital investments, such as equipment purchases;
  • Expand the use of the Build America Bonds program, which helps states and municipalities fund capital construction projects.

The legislation, approved by a 70-28 vote, is a scaled-down version of an $85 billion bipartisan draft bill that was crafted by Sens. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.

Some 13 Republicans, including newly elected Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., voted for the measure Wednesday.

"Today's progress is a small step forward but an important one," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who surprised many lawmakers last week when he announced the slimmed-down measure. "This morning's vote is a victory for hard-working Americans, especially those trying to find work. This will help our economy grow."

It now moves to the House, which may take it up as soon as Friday, said a Democratic aide at the House, which passed a more comprehensive $154 billion bill in December.

However, the bill does not extend the deadline to apply for unemployment benefits or the Cobra health insurance subsidy. Some 1.2 million people will run out of benefits after Feb. 28 if the deadline is not extended. Lawmakers are looking to pass a separate, shorter extension by the end of the week in order to give them time to enact a longer fix.

Also, unlike the House's bill, the Senate's jobs measure does not provide additional assistance for states. Many governors want the Obama administration to send more federal dollars so they can cope with yawning budget gaps.

The administration said on Monday that it strongly supports the $15 billion jobs measure but indicated it is only one step in the job-creation effort. The president wants lawmakers to take up a bill that would increase small businesses' access to credit.

Reid said the Senate will vote on extending tax provisions and small business job measures in the near future. The majority leader also said lawmakers will consider providing additional Medicaid money for states, which governors have been requesting.

"We have other things in mind," Reid said. "Remember, we don't have a jobs bill, we have a jobs agenda."

Still, labor leaders and left-leaning think tanks say the Senate must do more to spur job creation.

"We need to create 11 million jobs to get back to the level of unemployment we had before the recession began," said Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute. "Yet the Senate jobs bill would create no more than a couple hundred thousand jobs."

CNN Radio Correspondent Lisa Desjardins contributed to this report. To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 16,408.54 -16.31 -0.10%
Nasdaq 4,095.52 9.29 0.23%
S&P 500 1,864.85 2.54 0.14%
Treasuries 2.72 0.08 3.19%
Data as of 12:55am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 16.15 0.00 0.00%
Facebook Inc 58.94 0.00 0.00%
General Electric Co 26.56 0.00 0.00%
Cisco Systems Inc 23.21 0.00 0.00%
Micron Technology In... 23.91 0.00 0.00%
Data as of Apr 17
Sponsors

Sections

GM won't have to tell customers to keep their recalled cars parked until fixed, after a federal judge denied emergency motion Thursday. More

Obamacare sign ups hit 8 million, though final enrollment remains to be seen. More

Schwinn, Trek and Cannondale are all iconic American bicycle brands. But none of them are made in the United States. More

As Detroit moves closer to reaching a bankruptcy deal, retired civilian workers are poised to be left worse off than firemen and police officers. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer LIBOR Warning: Neither BBA Enterprises Limited, nor the BBA LIBOR Contributor Banks, nor Reuters, can be held liable for any irregularity or inaccuracy of BBA LIBOR. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.