President Obama’s big push for Congress to pass a jobs plan laden with new transportation funding fell well short Tuesday of the 60 votes needed for Senate passage.
The measure was broadly opposed by Republicans, and some Democrats did not like the proposed 5.6 percent surtax on millionaires that Senate Democratic leaders offered to cover its $447 billion price tag.
The Senate initially voted 50 to 48 to close off debate and was holding the vote open for one more Democratic senator to arrive, but it needed a filibuster-proof 60 votes to proceed to a final vote. Even had the plan moved ahead, though, it faced certain rejection by the GOP-controlled House.
Obama would have put $50 billion into direct transportation spending, more than half of that for road projects distributed to states under Highway Trust Fund formulas. Its total for transport spending was more than the Department of Transportation received in the 2009 economic stimulus law.
Obama included $5 billion to expand popular DOT grants and loans, and more money to replenish his intercity passenger rail expansion program that Republicans have been cutting. Besides the $50 billion, the bill would have set aside $10 billion more to fund a long-term infrastructure bank.
The plan would have also spent money to build schools and other infrastructure, given out tax credits and extended jobless benefits to the long-term unemployed.
But its defeat was widely expected. Earlier Tuesday, Obama told his jobs council that if the full package did not pass “we're going to break it up into constituent parts,” and try to get Congress to approve it piecemeal.
Already, some senators are proposing to pair the infrastructure bank portion with tax breaks for corporations, an idea drawing some support as well as objections from both conservatives and liberals.