Senate Democrats Search for Votes to Pass Jobs Bill

A bill that would extend unemployment benefits and raise taxes on buyout fund managers is in danger of being blocked in the U.S. Senate, even after efforts by Democratic leaders to scale back the plan in response to complaints about its costs. The Democrats, in their latest bid to pass the stalled legislation, announced a revised plan last night that would cut its costs by reducing proposed aid to states to $16 billion, down from $24 billion.

The new plan also trims spending on food stamps, the Pentagon and efforts to expand access broadband access by $11 billion. Senate Republicans have been blocking the bill for weeks, saying the cost-cutting hasn’t gone far enough. The revised legislation would add about $33 billion to the deficit, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The impasse has cut off jobless benefits for more than 900,000 Americans, and thousands of doctors have seen their Medicare payments slashed by 21 percent.

The bill would postpone those cuts. Vote Today Senator Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat who is his party’s chief vote-counter in the chamber, said leaders will schedule a vote today without knowing whether it will pass. “I hope the votes will show up this afternoon,” Durbin told reporters. “We don’t have the commitments to start with but we’re hoping for the best, we’re hoping that we can pass this legislation.” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, nodded ‘yes’ today when asked if he expects the legislation to fail. Reid said lawmakers will move on to other legislation if the bill is blocked, though the chamber may return to the plan if Republican support emerges. “We can’t pass it unless we get some Republicans,” Reid said, so “it’s up to them.”

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