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Senate OKs jobs bill on bipartisan vote

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Dueling job bills
  • Senators vote 70-28 to approve $15 billion legislation
  • Bill exempts Social Security payroll taxes on new hires who were unemployed
  • Legislation also funds highway and transit programs through 2010
  • Bill lacks House version's extension of COBRA and unemployment benefits

The Senate passed a $15 billion jobs bill Wednesday on a 70-28 vote.

On Monday, the Senate passed a key procedural vote to push the bill to a vote. Five Republicans -- including newly minted Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts -- aligned with Democrats to move the bill forward, 62-30. Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska was the sole Democrat to vote against it.

The Senate bill is a scaled-down version of an $85 billion draft bill that was later scrapped for Reid's $15 billion plan.

The bill exempts employers from Social Security payroll taxes on new hires who were unemployed; funds highway and transit programs through 2010; extends a tax break for businesses that spend money on investments, such as equipment purchases, among other items.

The bill, however, does not extend the deadline to apply for unemployment benefits and the COBRA health insurance subsidy. The House, in passing its $154 billion bill last year, included $79 billion in funding to extend unemployment benefits and a COBRA extension.