Democrats Brace For Tough Vote On Jobs Package

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Democrats will hold a high-stakes test vote on a jobs bill this afternoon, and will need at least two Republicans to break from their party if they hope to debate (and ultimately pass) an initial package of legislation. Can they do it? Time will tell, but as of this morning, leadership aides had little read on what would happen.

According to one aide, the vote–on the motion to proceed to debate the bill–is, “very up in the air.”

The hope, Democrats say, is that most of the provisions in the package have historically enjoyed GOP support. As they point out on their twitter feed, for instance, Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) co-sponsored the original Build-America Bonds Act of 2009–legislation that would be renewed by the jobs bill.

Likewise last year’s extension of the highway trust fund passed the Senate with 79 votes. This jobs bill would extend it for another year.Still, Democrats could come up short. They lost their supermajority last month when Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) won Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat. And Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) is ill and will not be voting. Democrats have been upping the pressure on Brown, and hope others, including Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and George Voinovich (R-OH) will break ranks and help bring the bill to the floor.

But they’ve received no guarantees.

For his part, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has been coy about whether the GOP will provide any support for the jobs package. Coy might not be so bad–McConnell doesn’t typically shy away from denouncing Democratic proposals when he and his caucus oppose them full stop. But that doesn’t necessarily mean Democrats will squeak this one through. This afternoon, they’ll be crossing their fingers.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Beutler is TPM’s senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he’s led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com

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