The first piece of President Obama’s jobs bill has passed overwhelmingly in the Senate, and now will be sent to the House of Representatives.
By a vote of 94-1, a measure to provide tax credits to businesses that hire unemployed or disabled veterans, sailed though the Senate, with only one senator voting no.
The lone no vote, Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., said from the Senate floor that the bill is “good politics,” but not good policy. Citing past similar examples, he said the tax credit is not enough to increase employment.
“The government has tried offering credits to hire particular categories of people many times before,” DeMint said. “The government accounting office report studied a targeted jobs tax credit passed back in 1978. The credit was intended to encourage companies to favor the disadvantaged in hiring. But a follow-up study found that it was not effective or economical in helping the targeted group. The program was eventually allowed to expire.”
The veterans measure was attached to a House-passed bill that would repeal the imposition of 3 percent withholding on certain payments made to vendors by government entities such as federal government contractors.
The 3 percent withholding bill, the overall vehicle for the veterans measure, passed by a vote of 95-0. Not voting were Sens. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, John McCain, R-Ariz., and Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. On both measures, Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, voted present.
Snowe’s office said that although she supports the major provisions within the bill, it is the senator’s practice to vote “present” on legislation that contains the potential or appearance of association with the private business activities of her spouse.
Following the vote, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., called on the House to pass the bill Friday – on Veterans Day.
“The best way for the House to honor our troops on Veterans Day would be to pass this bill tomorrow,” Reid said in a paper statement. “Our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines fighting overseas should be focused on the job at hand, not how they’ll find a job when they come home.”
This morning before the vote, but knowing that the passage was all-but-certain, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said with sarcasm that the Senate is going to do something “groundbreaking” today.
“We’re going to legislate,” McConnell said.
The House is not in session this week and is expected to pass the bill next week. If passed, the bill will then be sent to President Obama’s desk for his signature.