Senate Republicans blocked a $60 billion infrastructure bill Thursday, making the bill the second piece of President Obama’s jobs proposal to be voted down in the Senate.
Republicans and a few Democrats filibustered the broader $447 billion jobs bill last month. The vote came is a scripted floor exchange, with Democrats expected to quickly defeat an alternative GOP infrastructure funding bill. The bill garnered 51 votes--not enough to overcome the 60-vote cloture threshold.
The Democratic bill, which includes a $10 billion national infrastructure bank, is funded by a 0.7 percent surtax on incomes of more than $1 million a year. That is nonstarter for Republicans who argue the surtax shows the bill is an electoral ploy aimed at painting the GOP as obstructing White House efforts to boost employment.
“Democrats are more interested in building a campaign message than in rebuilding roads and bridges. And frankly, the American people deserve a lot better than that,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in an animated floor speech earlier Thursday.
McConnell implored Democrats to bring forward jobs legislation that can be enacted rather than legislation designed to be cited in a “campaign speech.” The remark drew a pointed response from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
“We have had here for the last 10 months a campaign speech every day directed by my friend, through his Republican colleagues and his caucus, doing everything they can to make President Obama look bad,” Reid said.
House Republicans are cooking up their own transportation jobs plan, which likely will be as unpalatable to Democrats as Obama’s infrastructure plan is to Republicans. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, is proposing to pay for a six-year surface transportation bill with expanded domestic drilling, a political nonstarter for Democrats. Boehner said Thursday that the House will take up before the end of the session a transportation bill that links all new revenues from a proposed expansion of domestic drilling to fund the nation’s infrastructure projects.
Meanwhile the Environment and Public Works committee is set next week to pass a bipartisan two-year surface transportation bill, but the bill faces uncertain odds in the House.
Susan Davis and Fawn Johnson contributed