WASHINGTON -- Despite President Obama's exhortations, the Senate voted down his $447 billion jobs package Tuesday by failing to end a Republican-led filibuster.
The bill died on a 50-49 tally, a majority of the 100-member Senate but well short of the 60 votes needed to keep the bill alive. The tally had been 51-48, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., switched his vote to "nay" so he could force a future re-vote.
"Tonight's vote is by no means the end of this fight," Obama said in a statement after the vote. "Because with so many Americans out of work and so many families struggling, we can't take 'no' for an answer."
The plan would have included Social Security payroll-tax cuts for workers and businesses and other tax relief totaling about $270 billion. There also was to be $175 billion in new spending on roads, school repairs and other infrastructure — as well as jobless aid and help to local governments to avoid layoffs of teachers, firefighters and police officers.
Republicans opposed the measure over its spending to stimulate the economy and its tax surcharge on millionaires.
Even before the vote, Obama and White House officials were planning their next moves.
No matter, said two White House officials who spoke on condition of anonymity on the president's plan while he was in Pittsburgh promoting it himself. The vote will show Americans where the two sides stand, they said — the president seeking to jump-start the economy and create jobs now, and the Republicans offering no such immediate job-creation plan.
Next up, they said: separate Senate votes on pieces of the plan, such as an expansion of this year's payroll-tax cut, an extension of unemployment insurance benefits, and federal aid for transportation construction.
"This will just be the first act in a long-term play here over the next couple months to try and force Congress to do the things that need to be done to help the economy in the short term," one senior aide said, promising "a series of votes" that will "dominate the agenda in Washington for the better part of the year."
The aide said the process of forcing Senate votes will have two possible outcomes: "Either, one, we get a lot of this done … or the American people will know why," the aide said, promising to "shine a spotlight" on the upcoming votes.
The White House strategy is clear: As polls show that Americans want action on jobs in Washington, officials want to pressure Republicans into capitulation or use the issue in next year's election campaign.
Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky was undeterred by the administration's plan. "Democrats' sole proposal is to keep doing what hasn't worked — along with a massive tax hike that we know won't create jobs," he said, noting there are 1.5 million fewer jobs than when Obama's 2009 economic package became law.