Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., forced Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to block a vote on President Obama’s $447 billion jobs proposal on Tuesday.
The legislative gambit will not bar a Senate vote on the bill later this month, but it blunts a Democratic effort to maneuver the GOP into accepting sole responsibility for blocking the package that includes provisions that are popular with voters.
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In a surprise move intended to highlight Democratic divisions over the bill, McConnell asked Reid for unanimous consent to vote on the bill, which Reid introduced last month, as an amendment to legislation cracking down on Chinese currency manipulation that is currently on the floor.
McConnell noted that Obama has asked Congress for an immediate vote on the measure at least 12 separate times.
"I want to disabuse [Obama] of the notion that we are somehow unwilling to vote" on the bill, McConnell said.
Reid objected to McConnell's request. He used a procedural tactic to block amendments to the bill. “To tack this on to the China currency manipulation legislation is nothing more than a political stunt,” he said.
Reid said he plans a vote this month on the bill but he has not decided whether to bring up the measure before action on three free-trade agreements. And he is still deciding whether to attach to the bill tax increases that Obama proposed as a way to pay for the measure, aides said. Those pay-fors are opposed by many Democrats up for reelection next year.
Reid also said on Monday he is willing to change the bill to pick up Democratic and GOP support.
McConnell’s move was an effort to highlight Democratic divisions. No one expected the jobs package to pass the Senate. And House leaders will not bring it up there. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said on Monday that Obama’s jobs bill will not be brought to the floor as a package.
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