ABC's Z. Byron Wolf reports: While most of Washington is still shuttered, digging out of the snow, the Senate is in session, but only briefly. In fact, a bit of a bipartisan thaw – Sens. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Chuck Grassley, R-IA, have released a draft for a bipartisan jobs bill. The total cost of the bill is $85 billion and its long-term prospects, both with rank and file Republicans and later on with House liberals, are unclear. But it is something bipartisan and aimed at stimulating job creation. Here is some of what the legislation includes: A bipartisan proposal from Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-NY and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, to create a new tax credit for businesses hiring those out of work ($13 billion) more than $30 billion in expiring business tax credits for everything from research and development to use of biofuel, more than $20 billion to fix problems with funding for the highway trust fund a $22 billion extension to unemployment insurance with more help for states with unemployment levels over 8.5 percent as well as another extension to federal help for people who lose their jobs to keep health insurance under COBRA A seven month fix “Doc Fix” so physicians treating Medicare patients don’t get a pay cut. In addition, the bill would include a short-term extension of the Patriot Act as well as including special provisions for flood relief and disaster assistance for farmers sought by specific Senators, as well as legislation that allows Satellite TV providers to continue providing network television signals. Baucus and Grassley said they want to have the bill online for 72 hours before votes start, implying that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid could start the process of putting the bill on the Senate calendar today. But the authors of the draft said they expect changes to be made. “We offer it as the first step in the Senate process for consideration of these time-sensitive proposals,” said Baucus and Grassley in a joint statement.
And they withhold final bipartisan support of the jobs bill if they don’t get assurances that the Senate will act on legislation to reform the estate tax, which has nothing to do with jobs and could complicate the deal on both sides of the aisle. The Bipartisan jobs bill is not the only work going on on Capitol Hill today. North Dakotan Kent Conrad won’t be cowed by the snow – he’s going ahead with a Budget Committee hearing. Same for Minnesotan Amy Klobuchar. She’ll chair a judiciary Committee hearing on pending nominations. And Democrats will have their weekly party pow-wow over lunch. Republicans were scared off by the snow.