House Set to Pass Jobs Bill With Changes, Prompting Another Senate Vote
The House has just begun voting on the Senate jobs bill, which includes a $20 billion reprieve for the nation’s highway trust fund and an highway expansion of Build America Bonds — but though the legislation is expected to pass, it won’t be headed to the president’s desk yet.
Bowing to concerns from two blocs of Democrats, House leaders made two minor changes to the jobs bill. The first modification assuages fiscal hawks by fully offsetting the cost of the bill, The Hill reports, while the House’s second tweak answers concerns from the Congressional Black Caucus by requiring that at least 10 percent of the legislation’s transportation spending goes to minority-owned or disadvantaged businesses.
House leaders did not fix the provision contested by the House transport committee that would award nearly 60 percent of $932 million in grants to four states while excluding 22 other states. The transport panel’s chairman, Jim Oberstar (D-MN), has secured written support from Senate leaders to unwind that language in a future bill.
Practically speaking, the House’s changes mean that the Senate would need to hold another vote before the jobs bill can become law.
Rep. Pete DeFazio (D-OR), Oberstar’s top lieutenant, made the case for the bill on the House floor. In addition to extending the 2005 transportation law until the end of the year, DeFazio observed, the jobs bill would allow the highway trust fund to begin collecting interest payments after 10 years of forgoing them to the Treasury.
"We’re now going to reclaim that money … it’s going to be a billion dollars a month," he said.
Republicans, led by Rep. Steven LaTourette (OH), countered that the jobs bill’s $13 billion in tax credits for new hires would be better used to pay for more infrastructure investment.
Late Update: The House cleared the bill on a 217-201 vote.