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The “Do-Nothing” Senate?

All of President Obama’s denunciations of the “do-nothing Congress” and fiery appeals for lawmakers to “pass this jobs bill now” may be blowing up in his face. Yesterday, the House approved one of the key pieces of Obama’s jobs bill, but also inserted a provision that would greenlight the Keystone XL pipeline construction. Now it’s the Democrat-controlled Senate and President Obama (who vowed to veto the legislation if its passed) standing in the way of the jobs bill:

Defiant Republicans pushed legislation through the House Tuesday night that would keep alive Social Security payroll tax cuts for some 160 million Americans at President Barack Obama’s request — but also would require construction of a Canada-to-Texas oil pipeline that has sparked a White House veto threat.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has already warned Republicans that the bill has no shot in the Senate. It passed on a party-line vote in the House, with only 10 Democratic members supporting it after it had already cleared the bar.

Sure, the move is purely political. But so was Obama’s choice to delay a decision on the Keystone XL until after the election. Plus, the payroll tax cut continuation bill may not have received as much Republican support as it did if it hadn’t included the Keystone provision:

Highlighting the confrontation with Obama over the Keystone pipeline, [House Speaker John] Boehner has been able to win over conservatives who were initially opposed to the president’s push to extend the payroll tax holiday and unemployment benefits. In addition to the Keystone provision, Republicans included measures delaying environmental regulations, limiting the duration of jobless benefits and restricting benefits for illegal immigrants, among other sweeteners. They proposed to offset the cost of the bill in part by extending a federal-worker pay freeze and reducing certain Medicare benefits for the wealthy.

Senate Republicans blocked a quick vote on the legislation today, arguing that Reid and Boehner should work out the differences. Senate Republicans are trying to pressure Democrats to focus on passing a spending bill to keep the government running, but Democrats are reportedly withholding their support until the payroll tax cut continuation goes through.



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