February 8, 2010
This post was originally published on the Washington Monthly.
The Senate Democratic leadership hoped to have a vote on a new jobs bill as early as today, but a regional blizzard closed the government and delayed the legislative process.
But even as the snow begins to melt, it’s unclear if Republican obstructionism will thaw enough to even allow the Senate to vote on the proposal. It’s tempting to think that even the GOP, as far gone as it is, would have to be crazy to block a jobs bill when unemployment is nearly 10%. Given that Dems have included a variety of tax cuts in their plan, it seems like even reflexively right-wing lawmakers would at least allow a vote on the nation’s most important issue.
…Democrats still don’t have enough votes to overcome a filibuster, and unless they can win over at least one Republican, they may adjourn this coming weekend empty-handed.
What’s the hang up? Republicans are working with Democrats on one key aspect of the legislation: tax relief for employers who hire new employees. But beyond such a measure, Republicans are balking at supporting a full package.
It seems, then, that we’re left with a familiar dynamic — Republicans will allow a vote on a bill that gives them what they want, but nothing else.
This seems like it should be political suicide, given the public’s hopes for an improved jobs landscape, but Senate Republicans hope Americans just won’t be knowledgeable enough to know the difference. The public, they assume, won’t know that the GOP is blocking a modest jobs bill, and won’t know that a 59-vote majority isn’t enough to pass legislation.
And they may very well be right. But let’s not forget that if Republicans won’t even let the Senate consider a modest jobs bill, filled with GOP-friendly tax cuts, in the midst of an employment crisis, how is it that any bill on any issue at any time can reasonably be expected to pass? For that matter, how is it that the Democratic majority can reasonably be expected to work with the discredited minority as if they were serious about addressing the nation’s challenges?