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Obama's jobs plan: Highway bill next up for Senate vote

October 21, 2011|By Lisa Mascaro | Washington Bureau
  • President Obama speaks in front of the Brent Spence Bridge in Cincinnati about his proposed jobs plan, which would include money to replace the bridge across the Ohio River.
President Obama speaks in front of the Brent Spence Bridge in Cincinnati… (Mark Lyons / EPA )

Senate Democrats unveiled the next provision of President Obama's jobs plan they will bring for a vote -- $60 billion for highways, transit and airports -- as they attemptĀ  to pressure Republican opponents.

The decision to put the popular proposal forward comes after GOP senators have twice rejected Obama's proposals to put Americans back to work, including a vote late Thursday that blocked sending money to the states to hire teachers and firefighters.

Obama called that unanimous show of Republican oppositionĀ  "unacceptable." Democrats promised to continue pressuring Republicans with votes on additional provisions of the president's $447-billion package. The jobs package would be paid for with a new tax on millionaires.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Friday that senators would take up the highway bill when they return to work.

Republicans have stood en masse against the measures in the Senate because they say the tax on millionaires could snare small business owners. They also argue that government spending programs will not create jobs.

Polls show the public supports federal building on infrastructure. This proposal would provide $50 billion for highway, transit and aviation improvements, upgrading 150,000 miles of road and improving 4,000 miles of rail tracks, Democrats said.

The proposal would also launch a $10-billion infrastructure bank, which local agencies could tap for infrastructure construction projects.

Costs would be paid for with a 0.7% surtax on household incomes above $1 million annually.

This week, Republicans and three Democrats blocked a proposal from Obama's jobs package that would have provided $35 billion for states to save or create jobs for teachers and firefighters.

lmascaro@tribune.com

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