Reid gets "the last word" on jobs, but Senate GOP nixes infrastructure bill

Updated at 6:03 p.m. ET

Republicans in the Senate on Thursday killed another piece of President Obama's jobs agenda -- a $60 billion bill to invest in infrastructure -- but not before accusing Democrats of putting politics ahead of job creation.

Democrats were ready to return the favor by voting down a GOP infrastructure bill and calling Republicans the party with the wrong intentions.

"I can't imagine that [Republicans] really believe they're doing the right thing," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on the Senate floor ahead of the vote. "I would hope someday we'll see a few Republicans break from the pack and vote to create jobs rather than trying to defeat President Obama."

In addition to committing $50 billion for roads and other transit projects, the measure would also create a $10 billion bank for longer-term infrastructure projects. It would be financed by a 0.7 percent tax on income over $1 million.

After a rather tense back-and-forth on the Senate floor between Reid and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, Reid declared, "I will get the last word" in this debate.

He may have had the last word, but Republicans managed to uphold a filibuster against the bill. It was blocked by a vote of 51 to 49 -- it takes at least 60 votes to break a filibuster. Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska joined all 47 Republican senators in voting against the bill.

The bill represented a portion of President Obama's $447 billion jobs package. Since Republicans rejected that plan in its entirety, Democrats have committed to voting on the plan piece by piece. Mr. Obama on Wednesday blasted Republicans in Congress for spending time on other issues (the GOP-led House this week voted to reaffirm "In God we trust" as the nation's motto) while rejecting infrastructure spending -- an idea that should gain bipartisan support.

"It's more clear than ever that Republicans in Washington are out of touch with Americans from all ends of the political spectrum," Mr. Obama said in a statement.

Senate Republicans on Thursday did offer their version of an infrastructure bill. That measure would extend existing highway and transit spending for two more years by cutting $40 billion from other domestic programs the GOP says is unspent.

Democrats managed to block that bill, 47 to 53. Two senators crossed party lines -- Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia voted for the Republican bill, and Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine voted against it.

Arguing in favor the GOP bill, McConnell said extending the existing programs would add more certainty to the economy. He also said the GOP bill was more responsible, since Democrats "want to pay for a temporary spending bill with a permanent tax hike on job creators."

"Democrats have deliberately designed this bill to fail," he said. "So the truth is, Democrats are more interested in building a campaign message than in rebuilding roads and bridges."

Reid responded that the American people support taxing the ultra-wealthy in order to stimulate the economy, rejecting McConnell's charge that the tax would have the opposite effect. "

"We're asking the top two-tenths of 1 percent of people" to contribute more, he said. "Job creators? I don't think so."

He added that the GOP plan to cut $40 billion from other domestic spending violates the budget agreement Congress reached over the summer as part of its debt ceiling deal.

"Their goal is to do everything they can to drag down this economy," he said, "in the hopes [McConnell] can get my job, perhaps, and that President Obama will be defeated."

With Republicans blocking the majority of the president's agenda, the White House has started a campaign called "we can't wait," in which Mr. Obama is taking small steps through executive action to create jobs. In the meantime, Democrats have been busy making the case that their legislation is more likely to create jobs than Republican legislation.

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