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Senate Republicans block another piece of Obama jobs bill

November 03, 2011|By Lisa Mascaro, Washington Bureau
  • Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid speaks to reporters at the Capitol on Tuesday.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid speaks to reporters at the Capitol on… (Chip Somodevilla / Getty…)

Republican-led opposition in the Senate blocked the highway infrastructure flank of President Obama's jobs package from advancing Thursday, as the GOP continues its united front against Democratic efforts to raise taxes on millionaires to pay for programs to create jobs.

The 51-49 vote, with two Democrats joining all Republicans in opposition, comes as House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) rolled out a new GOP-led jobs initiative Thursday.

Boehner proposes taking the proceeds from expanded domestic energy production, including oil drilling, and putting it toward highway infrastructure needs. "This represents a better way," Boehner told reporters.

The GOP effort comes as Republicans and Democrats are vying for the public's approval on the jobs front — a top issue for voters.

Obama's proposal was part of his $447-billion jobs package that would have invested in public school teachers, firefighters and government programs that economists say would put Americans back to work.

The White House package was blocked in the Senate last month, as Republicans oppose taxing millionaires to pay for government spending that they do not believe creates jobs.

Democratic leaders in the Senate are breaking the package into individual elements in an unsuccessful effort to build pressure on Republicans.

Thursday's proposal would have allocated $50 billion for highway, rail and airport modernization projects as well as $10 billion for an infrastructure bank that could leverage private investment for additional projects. It would have been paid for by a 0.7% surtax on household incomes above $1 million.

Infrastructure is usually a bipartisan issue, but Republicans stood unified in their opposition and Boehner has declined to take up the measure in the House.

Boehner's new proposal is an attempt to provide an alternative and reach out to Obama's interest in expanding domestic energy production. But it will probably run into opposition from Democrats who oppose allowing more natural resource extraction from areas they have sought to protect from development.

Boehner's proposal did not outline specific locations for energy production — an issue that will be defined in House committees in coming weeks.

lisa.mascaro@latimes.com

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