Reporting from Washington — The Senate today passed by a 68-29 margin a $17.6-billion measure intended to spur hiring nationwide, sending the bill to the White House for the president's expected signature.
Once the bill becomes law, it would mark the first significant piece of job-creation legislation to pass since President Obama and the Democratic Congress earlier this year declared that they would "pivot" and focus on reversing widespread unemployment.
The bill would grant employers an exemption from their 6.2% Social Security payroll contribution for every new employee hired through the rest of the year, as long as that employee had been out of work for at least 60 days. An additional $1,000 income tax credit would be allowed for every new employee kept on the payroll for 52 weeks.
Experts are split as to whether the payroll tax holiday will boost hiring.
The measure also would make it easier for businesses to write off equipment purchases and would pump billions into federal highway and mass-transit funding programs, which Democrats hope will jump-start construction projects. The bill's cost is offset by tax code modifications.