The Senate is getting more than its regular daily exercise in futility today.
There will be test votes this afternoon on two pieces of the jobs bill, a Democratic and a Republican version. The senators will spend the majority of the day debating the bills, following multiple news conferences this week by both sides pushing their bill.
Both bills will fail. And both sides know both bills will fail.
What’s worse, both bills focus on infrastructure, widely regarded as one of the issues given the best chance to garner bipartisan support. But the fierce divide on the details of both bills highlights just how little meaningful work on the jobs bills is happening right now in the very partisan Upper Chamber.
The Democratic plan, a $60 billion bill to rebuild roads, bridges and infrastructure, will get voted down by Republicans because it is paid for by the 0.7 percent tax on Americans making more than $1 million.
Democrats argue that a Republican vote against this plan would be a vote to help millionaires keep more of their money, adding that most Americans agree the wealthy should pay more.
“I can’t imagine that they really believe they’re doing the right thing by voting against asking the richest of the rich – .2 percent of the richest people in America – not contributing a small amount to creating jobs in America today,” Majority Leader Reid, D-Nev., said on the Senate floor this morning. “I would hope someday we’ll see a few Republicans break from the pack.”
Republicans argue that increasing taxes on the wealthiest would stifle job creation.
“I’m sure that it is the case that most Americans support raising taxes on high-income individuals. My guess is they might have a different view if they knew that four out of five of those individuals would actually business owners,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said today on the Senate floor.
The Republican plan, a two-year extension of federal highway and highway-safety programs and trust fund authority, will get voted down by Democrats not the least of which because of how the bill is paid for: a $40 billion cut in funds that were originally appropriated for another purpose but not spent.
Both sides argue that the other side’s plan is “designed to fail,” more to “make a point,” knowing full well that neither has the magic 60 votes to get through in the Senate.
“I think what the American people would like to see us do is actually pass something together that will become law,” McConnell said after a testy exchange with Reid on the Senate floor today. “All I’m suggesting is the exercise we’re going to have later today has nothing to do with making law and making a difference.”
The Senate will hold a “motion to proceed” at 3 p.m. to vote on both the Democratic version and the Republican versions of the infrastructure jobs bill.
With 60 votes needed to advance each bill, both will fail this afternoon.