One jobs bill down ... what happens next?

By Tami Luhby, senior writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Now that it's taken its first baby step towards creating jobs, Congress is looking at more measures to spur employment.

Don't expect any blockbuster bills with inventive hiring initiatives. With partisan politics dominating Capitol Hill, lawmakers are concentrating on bite-sized bills that are easier to pass. Most of the measures merely extend or expand existing laws.

Here's where things stand in both chambers:

House: Members are expected to take up legislation next week that contains a medley of tax benefits for small businesses, including a provision allowing entrepreneurs to deduct up to $20,000 of startup costs, up from $5,000 currently.

The bill also focuses on making infrastructure projects easier and less costly for states and cities to fund. For instance, the legislation would extend through 2013 the Recovery Act's popular Build America Bonds program, which has financed more than $78 billion in projects as of March 1.

"Small businesses are an important engine of our economy and this bill combines a number of proposals to help them grow and free up resources to hire new workers," said Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., the bill's sponsor. "This bill also extends effective financing measures like the Build America and Recovery Zone Bonds so that they can continue creating new jobs while making critical improvements to our communities."

Also on the agenda for the Ways & Means Committee is an energy-related jobs bill that would likely include the so-called cash for caulkers" provision that President Obama has touted for months. This program would provide rebates to homeowners who purchase energy-saving appliances or have energy audits performed on their homes.

Senate: The chamber will take up a small business measure in mid-April. It is still being crafted, a leadership aide said.

What's needed

The president and many lawmakers have said the best way to create new jobs is through small business hiring incentives and infrastructure spending.

While some economists agree, others think the economy should be left to recover on its own or that efforts should focus on helping struggling states and the unemployed.

Lawmakers' primary effort to date -- a$17.6 billion tax credit and infrastructure initiative that the president signed into law Thursday -- is quite small, said Kurt Karl, chief U.S. economist with Swiss Re. More important, he argued, is giving existing stimulus provisions additional time to have an impact on the economy.

"We probably have enough of these things in the pipeline," said Karl, who expects hiring to pick up by year end regardless of what Congress does. "We just need to have some patience."

Others, however, think it's critical for the government to do more to assist the unemployed and the states. Tax credits can be helpful, but only if businesses think the demand is there, experts said.

Extending jobless benefits and providing fiscal relief to the states, which are contending with massive budget gaps, will spur demand and prevent layoffs, said Chad Stone, chief economist for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a left-leaning think tank.

The Senate last week passed a bill that would extend the deadline to file for unemployment benefits until year's end. The measure would also send $25 billion to the states to help cover their expanding Medicaid costs.

The House is expected to take it up in April; the deadline currently expires April 5.

"It's good to get something done, but that something is not nearly enough," Stone said of Congress' efforts so far. 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 17,804.80 26.65 0.15%
Nasdaq 4,765.38 16.98 0.36%
S&P 500 2,070.65 9.42 0.46%
Treasuries 2.18 -0.03 -1.27%
Data as of 7:15am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 17.62 0.09 0.51%
Apple Inc 111.78 -0.87 -0.77%
General Electric Co 25.62 0.48 1.91%
Intel Corp 36.37 -0.65 -1.76%
Microsoft Corp 47.66 0.14 0.29%
Data as of Dec 19

Sections

New York Magazine reporter Jessica Pressler, who has been caught up in controversy this past week, will not be moving on to a new job at Bloomberg News. More

Investors beware: These 5 global crises are likely to rattle the stock market and world economy. More

Forums in dark corners of the web sell the kinds of hacks that befell Sony. More

Unilever sued Hampton Creek over its egg-free mayonnaise spread Just Mayo. But the company behind Best Foods and Hellman's mayonnaise has now dropped the lawsuit. More

Retired union workers could see their pensions cut under a controversial new law, but many say they're not sure how they'll make ends meet if big cuts go through. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.