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Job creation bill heads back to Senate

By Tami Luhby, senior writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Lawmakers' efforts to spur job creation were delayed once again Thursday after the House amended a $15 billion Senate bill before passing it.

The amendments mean the Senate must again approve the four-prong measure, this time with no changes, if President Obama is to sign it into law. The Senate may not take up the legislation until next week.

The House's action came a day before Labor Department statistics showed that the economy lost another 36,000 jobs last month. The unemployment rate remained at 9.7%.

The 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; and expand the use of the Build America Bonds program, which helps states and municipalities fund capital construction projects.

However, the House added two provisions to pay for the infrastructure spending and corporate tax breaks. Its amendments require foreign financial institutions to give the Internal Revenue Service more information to help it catch tax cheats, and delays a tax break for foreign interest payments. The measure passed by a 217-201 vote.

"It will provide support for small businesses to use tax credits and accelerated depreciation," said Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. "It would invest in building infrastructure for the future for our country. It does so by triggering tens of billions of dollars of new investments in infrastructure."

Others, however, are divided over the effectiveness of the jobs package. Some Democrats say it's not big enough, while Republicans claim it's wasteful spending.

Although President Obama has made jobs his top priority in 2010, lawmakers are having a tough time actually enacting any measures. Though the House passed a $154 billion bill in late December, the Senate has chosen to break up its job initiative into smaller pieces.

The $15 billion measure -- first passed by the Senate last week -- goes back to the chamber at a time when it is considering a more comprehensive $150 billion bill that would push back the deadline to file for unemployment insurance until year-end and extend dozens of expiring corporate and personal tax credits.

The Senate will not take up the amended bill until it is done with the larger measure, a Democratic leadership aide said.

The delays have forced lawmakers to scramble to keep extended unemployment checks flowing to the jobless and federal transportation funds flowing to the states. Both expired Sunday after lawmakers could not agree to a short-term extension.

After intense pressure, the Senate then passed a 30-day extension on Tuesday, which also provided more funds for small business lending and temporarily halted a 21% cut in physician payments for Medicare. To top of page

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