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Senate blocks votes on jobs bills

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 6:14 AM EDT, Fri October 21, 2011
President Obama speaks on jobs Tuesday in Virginia. The Senate is expected to vote on part of the plan this week.
President Obama speaks on jobs Tuesday in Virginia. The Senate is expected to vote on part of the plan this week.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: "We must do what's right for the country and pass the common-sense proposals," Obama says
  • NEW: Each side says its legislation would help to create jobs
  • NEW: Both bills needed at least 60 votes to proceed
  • Democrats promise to force votes on individual parts of President Obama's plan

Washington (CNN) -- Democrats and Republicans tried to force versions of a jobs bill through the Senate late Thursday, but both fell short of the 60 votes they would have needed to bring their proposals to the floor.

In a 50-50 vote, senators blocked a component of President Barack Obama's jobs bill -- $35 billion for states and localities to hire more teachers and first responders while preventing current ones from being laid off.

"For the second time in two weeks, every single Republican in the United States Senate has chosen to obstruct a bill that would create jobs and get our economy going again," Obama said in a statement.

"That's unacceptable. We must do what's right for the country and pass the common-sense proposals in the American Jobs Act."

DNC chair: Obama jobs bill 'critical'

The funding would have been paid for by a 0.5% tax increase on people earning more than $1 million a year. Republicans opposed the tax increase.

"Republicans have once again said no to creating jobs in America and no to helping the American people. They have turned their backs on our children and the safety of our communities by blocking a bill that would put 400,000 teachers, police officers and firefighters back to work," Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California, said in a statement.

Similarly, senators blocked a Republican-backed proposal to repeal a 3% withholding requirement for all government contractors. Businesses have decried it as burdensome.

The measure was part of Obama's broad jobs package and has Democratic supporters. However, Democrats and Republicans disagreed over how to offset the costs of eliminating the withholding. Senate blocked the bill by a 57-43 vote.

"Every American deserves an explanation as to why Republicans refuse to step up to the plate and do what's necessary to create jobs and grow the economy right now," Obama said.

Either side would have needed at least 60 votes to move its bill forward.

"It's hard to understand why Democrats would block this bipartisan effort to protect jobs -- a provision of the president's bill," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said in a statement after the vote. "I've said a number of times in recent days that the president doesn't want Congress to pass his jobs bill; he wants to blame Republicans and use it on the campaign trail."

Republicans have blocked debate on the entire $447 billion jobs plan in the Senate. They argue that any tax increase would harm economic growth and job creation, while Obama and Democrats contend that the president's package ensures immediate job growth.

Democrats are promising to force votes on individual components of the Obama plan.

Other components of the jobs bill to be voted on include funding for infrastructure projects and extending cuts in payroll taxes.

Among other things, Obama's overall blueprint includes an extension and expansion of the current payroll tax cut, an extension of jobless benefits, new tax credits for businesses that hire the long-term unemployed, and additional money to help save and create jobs for teachers and first responders such as firefighters.

CNN's Ted Barrett, Bob Kovach and Tom Cohen contributed to this report.

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