Oct 12, 2011 5:34 AM GMT
Obama's $447 billion jobs plan blocked with 50-49 Senate vote
President Obama received a slap from members of his own party Tuesday as the Senate voted 50-49 to block his $447 billion jobs package.
The jobs plan, which the president has spent much of the last month touting on a cross-country tour, fell well short of the 60 votes it needed to proceed.
The only Democrats to vote against the measure were Sens. Ben Nelson (Neb.) and Jon Tester (Mont.), but a number of other centrists in the party indicated they would vote against the package even though they supported launching a debate on the measure.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) originally voted in favor, but changed his vote to 'no' in a procedural move to keep open the option of raising the issue again without filing for cloture.
All of the Republicans present on Tuesday voted against the motion.
However, the White House will be able to point out that a majority of the Senate voted with the president.
Democratic leaders held the vote open to give Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) a chance to vote for it, a move that highlighted their desire to show the package winning as many Democratic votes as possible.
Shaheen voted in favor of the measure later on Tuesday night. She arrived at the Capitol late after receiving a civic award in Boston.
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) missed the vote for medical reasons.
Polling data has shown Obama has gained political momentum in recent weeks by barnstorming the country and challenging GOP leaders by name for obstructing his jobs agenda.
But Tuesday’s vote bolstered Republican leaders’ argument that opposition to the president’s agenda is bipartisan.
Even members of the Democratic Conference who agreed to proceed to the jobs measure questioned whether it is necessary legislation when the country is running a $1.5 trillion budget deficit.
“The truth of the matter is, most Democrats know just as well as I do that passing another stimulus and tax hike is a lousy idea — which is why the president is having such a hard time convincing many Democrats to vote for it,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said before the vote.
In the run-up to the vote, Obama’s political advisers portrayed it as a black-and-white partisan fight between a president trying to address the nation’s high unemployment rate and Senate Republican leaders more interested in partisan politics than the national good.
“Their strategy is to suffocate the economy for the sake of what they think will be a political victory,” Jim Messina, campaign manager of Obama for America, wrote in an email to supporters. “They think that the more folks see Washington taking no action to create jobs, the better their chances in the next election. So they’re doing everything in their power to make sure nothing gets done.”
Centrist Democrats undercut that narrative by speaking out against Obama’s plan, even though they voted to debate it.